LAIDLEY Blue Dogs captain Alex Welsh put in one of the better all-round performances of the Harding-Madsen Shield campaign to help his side past Northern Brothers Diggers on Sunday.
The skipper claimed five scalps, including two caught and bowled and a third catch off Nick Boland to send Laidley through to the intercity competition grand final.
He finished with figures of 5/36, and also added 32 in the Blue Dogs' run chase.
Laidley first-drop batsman Ben O'Connell praised his skipper's influence on the contest, and said his performance was exactly what you wanted from a captain in a tight contest.
"(Welsh) led from the front,” O'Connell said.
"He bowled at a couple of different times throughout the game to try and break their momentum or slow the runs.
"We knew they had a couple of solid batters, so we thought if we got some key wickets early we'd be right in the hunt.
"Each time (Welsh) came on, he took those key wickets.”
O'Connell moved down the order from his usual opening role, but that did not slow his run-scoring momentum.
"I started off the season opening, but (Jason) Cubit and Brendan O'Keefe have that pre-existing partnership,” O'Connell said.
"It doesn't really phase me whether I open or come in at three.”
The former Centrals captain piled on 56 to lead Laidley's scoring, but admitted to frustration in the way he got out.
"I was probably a bit disappointed I didn't go on with (my innings) a bit longer and see it through toward the end,” O'Connell said.
"I just picked someone out on the boundary and he took a good catch.”
O'Connell said the Blue Dogs' lower order of Andrew Pickering, Ben Gibson and Terry Emmerson deserved credit for finishing the run chase.
Laidley will host Western Suburbs Toowoomba in the Harding-Madsen Shield final on January 14.