There have been some epic battles between Sunbury Roar and the Riddell Bombers in recent years and this semi-final final certainly proved to be another. Riddell went in as firm favorites having dominated the competition since the Christmas break. Our team who dropped the last few games were looking for some form.
In a game of many highlights there were a couple that stood out that swung the match in our favour early on. The wicket of all-Australian Country batsmen and former Ryder medalist Mick Allen for ony 4 runs off the bowling of Heath Boffey certainly had the home team reeling from which they never really recovered. All out for 86.
It was a even performance from the bowlers with Heath removing both openers and Captain Jason McGann closing the door on a tail order recovery with 3 quick wickets to finish off the innings. Other key moments were two direct hit run outs from Jason McGann and Jack Landt.
A change up to the batting order didn’t quite go to plan however a more solid middle order proved the difference. Max Scott top scored with 33 including a massive 6 over the club rooms. It was a tight battle where the pressure dial was turned up to eleven, every run scored was vital.
Overnight the score required 40 runs to win with 5 wickets in hand. With only 2 wickets in hand and 6 runs to win Heath Boffey again stood tall by dispatching two deliveries to the boundary and first innings belonged to us. All out for 94.
In an effort to achieve an unlikely outright win Riddell went out to bat with all guns blazing. In the 15 overs up to the tea break they put on 145 lead and declared. Mick Allen put on a memorable display of 68 including 6 sixes.
The situation was, we needed to play the day out to achieve victory. 39 overs. Justin Nelson led the way by blunting the initial onslaught however at the other end Livingstone showed his class by attacking the stumps and gaining a few early wickets. As Justin was given out hitting fresh air, Paul Webber and Jason McGann kept out the majority of the 20 overs in the last hour. The whole club are very proud of the way our team stood up as Riddell threw everything at us except the kitchen sink including a running onfield commentary. The Riddell team became frustrated, appealed for everything and started to bowl short playing right into our hands.
All in all an intense battle that wasn’t over until the last ball was bowled. A credit to both teams but more importantly a great day for our team who stood tall on the big stage against an imposing opponent on their home soil. One of the great semi-final wins for our club in living memory.
Next week the Grand Final of the McIntyre Cup will be played against the Gisborne Dragons at Gardiner reserve, Gisborne.
Unfortunately other results did not go our way. The F Grade match verses ladder leader was an uphill battle after the home team posted 8/330 on the first day.
Our innings never really gained momentum being bowled out for 119 with Ian Johnson top scoring with 26.
It was much the same result at Clarke Oval with our 4ths also bowling first. Rupertswood posted 169 on the first day. A reasonable but achievable total. The highlight was Matt Ward’s return to form with 3 wickets. It was great to see him on the come back trail from a long term injury.
With the loss of early key wickets unfortunately our team could only manage 60 runs before being bowled out.
What was evident that finals cricket is a different game, the stakes are higher and the rewards greater. For the most part winning the toss and getting runs on the board no matter how many can be an advantage however many great battles have been won with the challenge of a run chase and the excitement of a result in the final stages of the match. That is finals cricket.
Next week Sunbury Roar travel to Gisborne and looming is the biggest prize of all, the McIntyre Cup. We want to see a wave of royal blue at the ground to cheer our boys on. Go the mighty Roar !