ST MARY'S premiership defence is alive and well after the team pulled off an upset win over Donald in the second Wimmera-Mallee Cricket Association semi-final at the weekend.
The Saints will face minor premier St Arnaud in the grand final after they blitzed Wycheproof-Narraport to score an outright win in the other semi-final.
St Mary's was in the box-seat from the start against Donald, bowling the home side out for 110 before finishing on 2-57 in reply on Saturday.
Brenton Cheney was outstanding with the ball for the Saints, claiming four wickets in 19 overs. He was well supported by Justin Knorpp, who took 3-10.
The Saints picked up where they left off when play resumed yesterday, taking their total to 185 to gain a 75-run first innings advantage over Donald.
St Mary's batsman Peter Lehmann proved to be the difference between the two sides, finishing with 75 runs to be the highest scorer in the match.
Donald managed 6-86 in the second innings before the close of play, handing St Mary's a first innings victory.
It was a disappointing end to the season for a Donald team which sat atop the ladder only two rounds from the start of the finals.
Daniel Schaper battled hard for the home side, posting scores of 32 and 43 in consecutive innings to keep his side's total respectable.
St Arnaud was out to stamp itself as premiership favourite in the other semi-final, and did so in emphatic style.
Torin Pietrie and Corey Jones ripped through the Wycheproof-Narraport lineup to have the visitors all out for 98 in the first innings.
St Arnaud managed 126 in reply, before Wycheproof-Narraport finally showed some resolve in their second innings.
The Demons powered their way to 8-197 runs before declaring, setting St Arnaud a 169 second-innings run chase.
Nick Coles made an impressive 78 to keep the visitors in the hunt, but it was not enough.
St Arnaud lost only three wickets on its way to 173 runs and an outright win, with batsman Kurtis Torney finishing unbeaten on 103.
St Arnaud will enter the grand final against St Mary's as heavy favourite after claiming the minor premiership.
It will also go in with a psychological advantage, having beaten the Saints for the first time in Wimmera-Mallee history in their previous meeting only a month ago.
The Wimmera-Mallee A Grade grand final will start on Saturday and conclude on March 16.
Wycheproof-Narraport and Donald will meet in the Wimmera-Mallee Cricket Association B Grade grand final after both teams posted wins in their semi-finals on Saturday.
The Demons upset minor premier Birchip in a thriller, chasing down 104 with only one over remaining.
Donald did it much easier in its semi-final, scoring 8-157 from its 40 overs before bowling Hopetoun out for 58.
Jarred Newell scored 79 with the bat for Donald, while bowler David Letts helped his side to victory with four wickets.