It's sometimes hard to take moral victories away from losses - especially one in a quarter-final that ended your campaign - but Kinross skipper George Cumming couldn't be prouder of his teammates in the wake of the students' four-run Royal Hotel Cup defeat to Orange City in Friday night's finals opener.
In what was almost the upset of the season, the men in navy falling agonisingly short of a boilover after needing just 12 runs off the last 14 balls.
But, as quality outfits do, City lifted its game when it mattered most.
When Cumming (39) knocked it into the outfield in the 19th over, he made the decision to push for a pair but was run out thanks to some quick work from Shaun Churchill.
Cummings' wicket sparked an untimely collapse, with Kinross dropping 4-5 at the death to hand City passage into the semi-finals.
Andrew Gordon (2-11) picked up a couple of late wickets, while Churchill's deadly armed snagged another run out too, Nelson Shepherd caught short trying to snatch a late run.
It marked heartbreak for the students, who were sitting pretty after Jono Rasmussen whacked 54 off 36 balls at the top of the order to see Kinross edge to 5-129 heading into the final over only to finish at 7-134 come the close of play, five runs short of victory.
Nevertheless, Kinross did incredibly well to make it as far as they did and their skipper was stoked with their efforts all year.
"We played a cracking game ... the boys played their hearts out," Cumming said.
"We came into this year thinking we didn't have much of a chance."
"In the T20 comp, we beat Lithgow who won the competition a few years ago and we really pushed CYMS ... in past years we've struggled to score 100 runs in these games."
While their shot at a T20 title is over for 2020-21, Cumming has hope the side they put on the paddock next year will be one of the stronger ones they have fielded in recent times.
"We only have two blokes who are finishing this year," he said.
"Most of them will be going around again. We also had Dave Hunter and James Larkin with injuries which hurt us."
And not only will plenty of players be coming back next summer, Cumming expects them to be much improved as he circled two teammates who will be cherry ripe after their first season on the big stage.
"Dudley Shepherd is only 15 and he's always working at training," he said.
"Charlie Condon is the same age and he's always playing with a smile on his face ... he's going to be a good fast bowler to come through the ranks."
Orange City will now move on to the next stage of the competition and deserve credit for overcoming adversity on Friday night.
Lachie Coyte (44) was excellent with the bat in-hand and the aforementioned Andrew Gordon (2/11) produced a game-changing performance with the ball.
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