DIGGERS have earned a first-grade grand final rematch with the Coro Cougars after beating Exies in the preliminary final yesterday at Exies No.1.
The 32-run victory ensures the reigning champions get the chance to defend their title on Griffith cricket's biggest stage this weekend at the same venue.
Captain Nathan Smith, who was on hand when Diggers took out the first-grade title in an absolute heartstopper last season over Coro, said: "I definitely don't think they wanted to play us in the final again.
"I think they would have preferred Exies.
"We don't rate the one-dayers or the Twenty20 titles as highly so we know they'll be fearing us come next Saturday."
And so they should, after Diggers' polished and professional win over Exies. Smith was one of a handful of bats to contribute to the side's modest but workable first innings total of 145.
Smith knocked 32 while Dean Crack (30), Mick Duncan (24) and Jarrod Cahill (19) all chipped in.
"It doesn't sound like a big score but after what's been scored on this pitch lately it's definitely a respectable score and I always knew it was defendable," the skipper said.
Exies found the going just as tough in the middle.
Only three batsmen registered double-figure scores, with Tom Valeri's assured 42 off 161 balls the clear highlight of the innings.
After falling to 3-16 in response, Valeri helped Exies recover to 5-103 just after lunch thanks to a tidy partnership with Jamie Winkler, worth 33 runs.
But it all fell to pieces for Exies from there with the next five wickets going for only nine runs.
Returning paceman Glen Faganello was the chief destroyer with 3-27 but it was Jason Hampel (3-2 from three overs) who pounced for the key wickets of Valeri, Winkler and Exies captain Marc Tucker.
A second innings was attempted but time proved Exies' enemy in the end but the side was able to take some positives out of the game after Warren Bock's successful comeback from injury.
Bock took 5-13, including the prized scalp of skipper Smith, in his first top-grade game in over a month.
"It was a bit of a loose shot that got me out but he bowled very well," Smith said.