By Luke Voogt
Geelong has reached the semi-finals after a thrilling one-wicket victory over St Kilda yesterday.
The result was one of three quarter final upsets, with Prahran the only top-four team to survive the knockout round.
Paceman Brody Couch was the hero for Geelong, taking 5/36 after returning from a precautionary COVID-related absence.
Josh Garner struck first dismissing Patrick Rowe after St Kilda chose to bat at Harry Trott Oval.
Couch dismissed other opener Michael De Iacovo and spinner Hayden Butterworth trapped Josh Manning LBW to put St Kilda in trouble at 3/58.
Jonathan Merlo and Adam Crosthwaite combined for 64 runs before Couch trapped Crosthwaite LBW on 31 (4/122).
St Kilda made another 17 before Couch bowled Merlo on 43 and trapped Josh Bartlett LBW for a golden duck (6/139).
Couch was unlucky not to get a hat-trick with Henry Thornton playing and missing his first ball at the crease.
But Butterworth got him later for 8 (7/156) and Will Lovell was run out for 3 (8/166).
Jack Cunnington chipped in with 34 before Couch bowled him (9/178), with the Saints managing another 17 to finish on 9/195.
Eamonn Vines suffered a hit to the groin early in the Cats’ innings, retiring hurt, and fellow opener Butterworth was dismissed for 13 (1/33).
Geelong made between 13 and 25 for each of the next four wickets (5/107) with Josh McDonald contributing 24 and Tom Jackson 29.
Tyler Larkin and Tom O’Connell combined for 42 before Larkin fell on 37 (6/149), and O’Connell was bowled on 23 with the Cats at 7/163.
Couch was again vital making 20 and helping Geelong reach 8/191.
Disaster struck when Vines was dismissed on 14 after returning to the crease, leaving the Cats at 9/194.
But Thornton bowled a wide, levelling the scores, and Garner hit the winning run, a near repeat of his match-sealing boundary off the same bowler when the sides clashed in round 13.
Geelong will face Dandenong in the semi-finals on Saturday after the Panthers bowled out second-placed Melbourne for just 87 to win by five wickets.
Geelong defeated Dandenong by seven wickets in round 12.
But opener Brett Forsyth is averaging 57.8 while all-rounder James Nanopoulos has bowled brilliantly this season.
The Panthers have nothing to lose after finishing seventh but Geelong should have the firepower to overcome them.