Nashua Cape Cobras veteran Alan Dawson followed up a blistering late onslaught by Rory Kleinveldt and Vernon Philander by scoring two runs off the last ball to win their Standard Bank Cup Pro20 semifinal.
In an absolutely thrilling finale, Kleinveldt and Philander brought the Cobras back from the dead on 85 for six after 15 overs with their stand of 51 off 27 balls, before a fine final over by Mario Olivier threatened to turn the tables once again.
The Cobras needed 41 runs off the last three overs, but Kleinveldt and Philander, who each belted three sixes, struck 36 runs off the next two overs from spinners Arno Jacobs and Johan Botha, leaving just five runs to get off the last over.
But the Cobras then hit an obstacle in the form of an inspired Olivier, who clean bowled Philander and trapped Con de Lange leg-before with successive deliveries. Two runs were needed off the last ball, as a tie would have sent the Warriors through by virtue of losing fewer wickets, and the fast bowler produced a decent enough low full toss. But stalwart Dawson managed to swing the ball to wide long-on, a fumble by Corbyn Dolley serving as the clincher as the batsmen sped through for the second run.
For drama, it was matched by the blazing late hitting of Philander (41 off 30 balls) and Kleinveldt (30 not out off 15 balls), who resurrected the innings after the Warriors had picked up six generously donated wickets.
The Cobras were chasing just 140 and there was no sign of the drama to come as Adam Bacher and JP Duminy cruised comfortably to 45 for one after six overs. Bacher raced to 17 off 11 balls before left-arm paceman Lonwabo Tsotsobe beat his attempted heave over midwicket.
Duminy looked in commanding form as he went to 17 as well, but a delicate jab to third man off Zander de Bruyn ended up in wicketkeeper Athenkosi Dyili's gloves.
Warriors captain De Bruyn then heaped a ton of pressure on the Cobras as three wickets fell in his second over. There was little need to accelerate the run-rate, but Henry Davids (11) and Wesley Euley (5) both holed out attempting big hits over the top and Benji Hector was run out without facing a ball as he could not get back to his crease in time to beat sharp fielding by Murray Goodwin.
De Bruyn completed a top-class spell of bowling with the wicket of Warren Swan to finish with brilliant figures of four for 18 in his four overs, but that brought Philander and Kleinveldt together and the two strong young men regained control with their brilliant partnership.
A top-class bowling display by the Cape Cobras had earlier limited the Eastern Cape Warriors to 139 for five.
The Warriors struggled to 49 for two after 10 overs, in which, astonishingly, only two sixes and a four were struck.
Admittedly, the pitch was on the slow side and the outfield thick, but the Warriors batsmen showed undue respect to the bowlers as they politely refused to come down the pitch or innovate against an attack that maintained a superb full length on or about off stump.
Dawson, for whom retirement beckons perhaps a bit early, produced a sublime display of controlled swing bowling at the start that totally flummoxed the Warriors top-order.
Justin Kreusch came and went first ball of the innings, comprehensively beaten and trapped leg-before by Dawson, while Jacobs scored 16 before Dawson's inswinging yorker nicked him on the toe and had him lbw as well.
De Bruyn scored 35, but it came off 46 balls with hardly a shot in anger, and HD Ackerman was the one Warriors batsman to score quickly.
Ackerman raced to fifty off 35 balls, with four fours and two sixes and closed the innings well to finish with 58 off 40 balls.
While Dawson was the star of the show for the Cobras, with outstanding figures of two for 15 in his four overs, the other pacemen also bowled superbly to ensure the Warriors were not able to score freely.
Philander bowled two overs for 10 runs before bowling the last over and conceding 11 runs, but he did bowl Ackerman with a superb off-stump yorker.
The Cobras will now play the winners of the semifinal between the Highveld Lions and the Easterns Titans, who meet at the Wanderers on Sunday.