THE improbable has happened: Penrith have been knocked out of the Sydney first grade cricket finals.
That's a result of the seeming impossible: both first and second beaten on the first weekend.
That's runaway minor premiers Sydney University and Penrith, respectively.
Under the three winners and highest-placed loser rule, Sydney University live to play another weekend. Penrith are gone.
And here's the unkindest square cut of all: Penrith are gone because of a St Clair junior, Ahillen Beadle.
All seemed well and going to the form guide on Saturday when Manly-Warringah won the toss and batted at Howell Oval — Penrith earning the right to host because of their higher placing.
When Josh Lalor struck twice early and Manly were 2-16, all was going very well.
When Manly were 4-88 all was still going well.
But Penrith seldom went to the well after that as Beadle buckled down.
He hit 126 from 257 balls in nearly six hours, and remarkably didn't hit a four.
The fours came from captain Tim Cruikshank, nine of them, before the skipper was dismissed for 50 after sharing a partnership of 99.
Still, when Manly were out for 243, it was a challenging but gettable total.
Josh Lalor had taken 3-86 from 28 overs and Tim Cummins 2-25 from 10 overs, continuing his promising comeback.
All seemed well again when Penrith's opening partnership yielded 90 runs before the ever-reliable Pat Jackson went for 41.
All was still going well when Penrith reached 1-110, but from there it was disaster.
Two wickets fell on that score, including that of top scorer Luke Morrissey for 50.
Penrith were still slight favourites at 6-198, but Tim Cummins went for 22 then and the last three wickets fell on 202.
So a season that had seen Penrith lose just two competition games, Jackson rated the best grade cricketer in Sydney on the My Cricket website and Cummins — one of the futures of Australian cricket — make a successful comeback, had finished without a bang on their home track.
Manly go on to host Bankstown at Manly Oval in one semi-final this weekend.
Sydney University get their second chance against Randwick Petersham at Coogee Oval in the other.