Darley is into its first Ballarat Cricket Association firsts grand final.
The Lions will face the ultimate test against Wendouree – the BCA’s most powerful entity in the past decade.
Darley progressed with a decisive 71-run semi-final win over Mt Clear at Alfredton on Saturday and Sunday.
Opener Lachie Herring was the star with the bat with 116 on the opening day to lead Darley through some early trouble and onto a match-winning 7-255.
Then it was Ben Longhurst, in his first appearance in the first eleven for the season, who provided the x-factor with the ball to take 4-35 and help dismiss Mounties for 184.
Captain-coach Heath Pritchard said it had taken a persistent team performance to get across the line, highlighting sustained bowling and fielding to lock down Mt Clear.
Darley looked like it might be struggling to get the competitive total it needed after slumping to 4-68, but two partnerships featuring Herring, Brad Barnes, 39, and Drew Lock, 45, put the heat back on Mt Clear.
Wendouree, 8-226, produced a similar performance to get over Napoleons-Sebastopol, 223, in a semi-final at the Eastern Oval.
Tyler Dittloff, 63, and skipper Matt Ringin, 66, put Naps-Sebas in a strong position on Saturday and it looked even better placed when Wendouree stumbled to 4-68 on Sunday.
Liam Brady, 66, and Tom Le Lievre, 41, put the Red Caps back in the driver’s seat with a 98-run stand and then in a gripping finish it was left to Matt Smith, with an aggressive 40, to get them across the line.
While this grand final appearance has been more than a decade in the making for Darley – it joined the BCA in 2002-03 – Wendouree is looking for its first premiership since 2012-13, when it completed five in a row.