Nerrena’s Gerard Murphy was the hero of the weekend in A Grade Division One, blunting the OMK challenge as they surged back into the semi-final on the fickle Leongatha Turf on Sunday after 24 wickets fell in the day on Saturday. There were plenty of ‘plays and misses’ even late in Murphy’s innings, indicating that the pitch was still doing something but it was a resolute Murphy who went the distance for the Red Caps.
• A Grade Division 1
NERRENA and Inverloch will face off in this week’s A Grade Division One grand final after winning their respective semi-finals in vastly different circumstances over the weekend.
An incredible 24 wickets fell on day one of the semi between Nerrena and OMK at the Leongatha Turf.
Nerrena bowled first and quickly had OMK on the ropes on day one.
The pitch offered plenty at the start of play and swing bowler Josh Trease capitalised.
He had the Diggers’ batsmen in all sorts, ripping through the line-up on his way to 5/26 off 15 overs.
The OMK batsmen crumbled to be all out for 56 in 37 overs, with Adam Miller and Dave Creed the only batsmen to reach double figures.
The Diggers were one short as Tom Wyatt was playing a practice match for the Casey Scorpions Football Club on Saturday morning and wasn’t back in time to bat.
In reply, the Nerrena batsmen didn’t fare much better as the Diggers struck on a regular basis.
If not for the efforts of opener Dave Trotman, the Red Caps grand final chances could’ve been in tatters.
Trotman remained at the crease as his fellow batsmen fell around him, before he was the final wicket to fall, caught off the bowling of Daniel Lloyd for 49.
Lloyd, Peter Dell and Jason Wilson picked up three wickets each for the Diggers.
The modest total of 91 from Nerrena saw the Red Caps hold a lead of 35.
OMK’s batting improved in the second innings as they reached 4/66 at the end of day one.
Resuming with Wilson at the crease, the Diggers remained in the hunt.
Wilson batted well for 30-odd runs, before the tail wagged which saw the Diggers reach 9/166.
Tim Wightman with 3/50 was the best of the bowlers for Nerrena.
OMK declared 10 minutes before tea, giving them a slight chance at victory.
Dell removed Mitch Clark and Tim Wightman to give the Diggers hope, before Gerard Murphy settled at the crease for the Red Caps.
A knick to first slip off the bowling of Al Jenkins was well caught, but was given not out after the umpire called a front foot no ball.
This saw the momentum swing in the Red Caps’ favour as they batted out the overs, with Murphy finishing 51 not out in a match-winning knock.
Nerrena reached 5/124 off the remaining 59 overs and booked a spot in the grand final this week.
Inverloch answered any critics of its batting line-up with a spirited performance against Wonthaggi Workmen’s at the Inverloch Turf.
Brett Debono fell for three with the score at 18, before fellow opener Walter Taberner kick-started the Stingrays’ innings.
He batted with brilliant control and punished the bad balls, surviving until drinks with Will Rankin.
Rankin departed shortly after for 15 which sparked a flurry of wickets.
Taberner was caught for 71 and when Kit Rotthier, 18, and Clay Tait were sent packing in quick succession, the Stingrays were 5/121.
All-rounder Dylan Clark steadied the ship for Inverloch with 47 runs before the Stingrays’ lower order rose to the occasion.
Jason Smith batted beautifully, combing with Darien Mathews, 21, and Lewie Rankin, 17, to take the score to 8/233.
Ben Thomas joined Smith at the crease and the pair remained until stumps, as the Stingrays reached a defendable total of 292.
Smith remained 47 not out and Thomas 42 not out in a stellar performance from the tailender.
Ryan Thomas was the pick of the Workmens’ bowlers with 4/91 off 29 overs including 10 maidens.
The Inverloch opening combination of Rotthier and Lewie Rankin gave the Stingrays the perfect start on day two.
Rankin removed Robbie Geyer in no time, before Rotthier claimed the vital wickets of Tim Hooper and Jay Baker to leave the Workmen’s reeling at 3/25.
This put the Workmen’s on the back foot and they never really recovered.
Their chances relied heavily on the performance of captain Gav Britt, who attempted to resurrect the innings as batsmen continued to fall around him.
Spinner Clark was brought on to slow the pace and had an immediate impact claiming 2/28 off 10 overs.
Britt finally found a batsmen willing to stick around, with James Sheerin sharing a 55-run partnership with the veteran.
But when Sheerin called for a third run and was run out, the Workmen’s hopes were dashed.
Britt was given out shortly after caught behind, before the Workmen’s were quickly bowled out for 159.
Rankin finished with figures of 3/26 off 12.1 overs, with Rotthier claiming 3/37 off 20 overs.