Queensland captain Chris Hartley was man of the match for his 87 runs. Photo: Colleen Petch
When Ben Rohrer first took guard at Manuka Oval on Sunday, New South Wales' run chase against Queensland was in tatters and defeat looked inevitable.
Two hours later, he walked off convinced a chance to register one of the great comeback wins had slipped through their fingers.
With NSW reeling at 8-179 in reply to Queensland's 292 in the Ryobi Cup clash, some in the 1110-strong crowd had already bolted for the car park.
The Blues required nothing short of a miracle, and Rohrer and his unlikely ally, No. 10 Josh Lalor, very nearly provided it.
Rohrer, with 80 runs off 60 balls, and Lalor (26 off 25) blasted 81 runs off just 56 balls in a thrilling ninth-wicket partnership that threatened to pull off one of the all-time great domestic victories.
The Bulls were finally able to breathe easy when Lalor hit a full toss down Ben Cutting's throat at mid-on off the bowling of Queensland hero Cameron Gannon (5-38 off 11.2 overs).
Queensland's win was set up by a composed opening stand of 154 from Usman Khawaja (85 off 102) and Chris Hartley (87 off 109).
With a baggy green up for grabs after Ricky Ponting's retirement, Khawaja wasn't lacking motivation against his former state. And the classy left-hander didn't disappoint, his knock helping Queensland consolidate third spot on the table.
The 25-year-old looked set for a huge innings before he was run out by a direct hit from Moises Henriques after a mid-pitch tangle with Blues quick Lalor in the 30th over.
Rohrer played with controlled aggression and was particularly savage on former NSW off-spinner Nathan Hauritz (0-54 off seven overs).
When the Bulls pushed back Hauritz's field, the left-hander cleverly picked him off with several lofted twos over the infield.
Rohrer said when he and Lalor had whittled the asking rate down to 36 off 30 balls, he believed the Blues could pull off the unlikely win.
''It actually got down to seven-and-a-half [runs] an over at one stage, so it was definitely a winnable game when Lalor was in with me,'' said Rohrer, who was last man out to Gannon.
''We were in the box seat at that stage - we were in and 'JL' was playing well.
''It's just unfortunate he hit a full toss straight up, but those things happen in one-day cricket, it was disappointing to lose so many wickets early.''
Cutting, who smashed 39 off 32 balls when sent in as a pinch-hitter at No. 3, said the Bulls were concerned when Rohrer began to find top gear.
''He batted awesome. It's a pretty good wicket when you go hard, and that's the best I've seen him play,'' Cutting said.
''We started to get nervous about the 40-over mark. They still needed nine an over but I knew what Benny was capable of, and he nearly got them there in the end.''
Rohrer believes Khawaja has grown in confidence and is more capable of taking over a match since his move north. ''He just looks really positive in the one-day game, he's backing himself and is more aggressive than I've seen him.''
The Blues remain anchored to the bottom of the table with just one win from four matches.