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Bulls hang on after frantic finish

The Queensland Bulls have defended 173 to win an exciting KFC Twenty20 Big Bash against the New South Wales Blues by nine runs at the Gabba.

In front of a crowd of 27,653, including some 16,000 who turned up on the night, the Bulls had bowlers Ashley Noffke (2-14) and Nathan Rimmington (2-26) to thank after struggling with the bat.

Rimmington followed up his man-of-the-match display against the Tigers, when the young paceman took a hat-trick, to claim the key scalp of Phil Jaques for 29 from 28 balls.

Noffke, meanwhile, dismissed the dangerous Aaron O'Brien in the penultimate over for 38 to effectively end the Blues' fightback.

After losing Ed Cowan and Brad Haddin early, Jaques and captain Simon Katich kept the runs ticking over until Katich was caught on the rope off the bowling of James Hopes (2-49) with all-rounder Daniel Christian following the same over for two.

Then Jaques, who offered a half-chance to a sprawling Michael Buchanan on six and was almost run out on 29, was clean bowled to become the impressive Rimmington's first scalp.

O'Brien and Tim Lang both survived dropped catches to build a 42-run stand before Noffke got Lang to leave the Blues needing 35 off the final 12 balls, the visitors falling nine short despite three sixes coming off the final over.

Earlier, four wickets in four overs helped slow the home side's run rate with Lang snaring 2-32 in that spell.

But Christian did the bulk of the damage with a return of 3-38 off four overs including the vital wickets of in-form Clinton Perren and Chris Simpson for 39 runs apiece.

Christian also clean bowled stand-in captain Chris Hartley with the final ball of the innings and might have had a five-for but for two dropped catches by former Queensland off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

Perren smacked two huge sixes as they easily passed the 50-stand before Hauritz, back in front of his former crowd, made a mess of catching a miscued slog off Christian's first over with Perren on 33.

'CP' added just six more before chipping a catch back to Christian as the right-arm quick started his second over to bring an end to a 72-run stand.

And he continued to strangle the hosts with just two runs off his third - the 18th of the innings - as well as the dismissal of Simpson who was caught by Scott Coyte on the boundary.

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