• A Grade, Division 1
THE A Grade, Division 1 semi-finals produced two upsets over the weekend with Wonthaggi Club and Nerrena coming from third and fourth position to clinch a grand final berth.
The two sides will face off at the Butch West Oval this weekend in what should be a cracking contest on a pitch that has caused trouble for batsmen this season.
Nerrena pulled off the upset of the year when it knocked off premiership favourite OMK in a match dominated by ball at Scorpion Park.
Batting first, the Red Caps got off to a shaky start with OMK quick Al Jenkins removing openers Dave Baldi and Steve Lester at 2/27.
Tim Wightman and Mitch Clark worked hard to get the Red Caps back on track and looked set to build a competitive score.
But tight bowling from Barry Wyatt saw Wightman come unstuck when he was trapped LBW for 25.
Clark departed shortly after when he was caught by Jason Wilson off the bowling of Jake Cochrane for 11.
Wyatt continued to cause headaches for the Nerrena batsmen, removing skipper Chris Savage (0) and experienced finals campaigner Damien Symmons (9).
The loss of Paul Matheson (11), Ryan Clark (7) and Caine Salmon (0) had the Red Caps in deep trouble at 9/106.
Enter tailenders Renish Joy and Josh Trease.
The pair defiantly took it up to the OMK bowlers, sharing what proved to be a match winning 48-run partnership for the final wicket.
The pair’s cameo ended when Joy nicked a Cochrane delivery to keeper Alex Rose in the 53rd over, but his valuable 29 including four fours and two sixes helped his side to a total of 154.
Trease played the perfect support role, remaining 18 not out which included three fours and a six.
Wyatt finished with 5/33 off 10 overs including five maidens, while Cochrane took 3/46 off 10.1 overs.
The Nerrena bowlers had a tough job ahead of them but proved they were up to the challenge in the final 36 overs to end the day.
Buoyed by his earlier performance with the bat, Joy led the bowling attack, trapping Jesse Van Rooye LBW for a duck.
The Red Caps followed up with the run out of David Creed (2) and when Joy bowled Daniel Lloyd (12), the Diggers were reeling at 3/14.
Adam Miller and Jason Wilson steadied the ship with a 47-run partnership, but Nerrena continued to attack and Miller was caught off the bowling of Matheson for 22.
Tom Wyatt (5) stuck around with Wilson for a while before he was struck LBW by Matheson at 5/81.
Wilson tried desperately to survive until the end of play, but Ryan Clark rattled his stumps to dismiss him for 46.
Alex Rose and Jake Cochrane survived the day, as OMK finished at 6/95, still needing 59 runs for victory.
OMK’s slim chances of a win took a further blow when Cochrane departed for five at the start of day two.
Wyatt (0) and Dell (0) didn’t last long either as the Red Caps closed in on victory.
A last ditch effort by Rose (30 not out) and Al Jenkins gave a glimmer of hope, but Wightman trapped Jenkins LBW to bring an end to the Diggers’ season and send the Red Caps into the grand final.
Joy finished with 3/41 off 15 overs, while Trease (2/24) and Matheson (2/39) also bowled well.
At the Inverloch Turf, Inverloch won the toss and took up the challenge of setting their opponents, Wonthaggi Club, a total to chase.
But the pressure of finals cricket soon took its toll and the Stingrays were quickly in trouble at 3/31.
Working in tandem, Ryan Thomas and Scott Williams had done the job for their captain and James Sheerin, bowling superbly at the moment, chipped in with the wicket of Clay Tait to keep the turnstiles ticking over.
It was then that Inverloch captain Kit Rothier and Dylan Clark looked like steadying the ship.
Both players had settled in under tense conditions, and by the time they both reached 20, were starting to hit the ball particularly well, especially Clark.
But just when he looked ready to play the definitive innings of the match, he cracked a cover drive off Gavin Britt, right in the meat of the bat, only to see Sheerin reach forward at short cover and take a miracle catch, centimetres off the ground.
It was ‘four’ all the way if he hadn’t stopped it, but to catch the low drive, on its way down, at such a pace was a real body blow for Inverloch and they didn’t recover; losing six wickets for 20 runs, to be all out for 108 off 45 overs.
It was a very disappointing start to a game that had promised so much for the home side.
Club lost the early wicket of David Britt for 0 with the score on eight but there was to be no collapse at the top of the batting order with Gavin Britt (34), Mitch Thomas (43) and Ryan Thomas (23 not out), the man of the match, all playing confidently.
By the end of the day on Saturday, it was all over, Club was into their umpteenth A Grade final and remain the dominant team of the past few decades; win, lose or tie next weekend.
Ryan Thomas took 5/35 off 16 overs including five maidens and Scott Williams was equally difficult to get away, taking 1/17 off 10, including four maidens, but the catch by James Sheerin off Gav Britt was certainly the pivotal point of the match.