Redbacks and Eagles vie for SMCA’s top prize

David Braithwaite

AFTER such a dramatic weekend of Sale-Maffra cricket semi-finals, it’s hard to imagine how Saturday’s grand final can top that.

Grand finalists Stratford and Maffra successfully defended their totals, defeating Boisdale-Briagolong and Collegians by two and five runs respectively.

But Saturday’s match at Sale Oval has the making of a classic, with both teams boasting plenty of match winners.

The teams occupied the top two spots on the ladder at the end of the home-and-away season, with Stratford ahead only thanks to a superior net run rate. Despite this, Maffra decisively won both its matches against the Redbacks this season.In a fluke of the draw

In a fluke of the draw – and the weather – Stratford and Maffra will play each other in their first and final matches of the season.

After the first two rounds were rescheduled, the sides opened the season against each other at the Cameron Sporting Complex.

The Redbacks were bowled out for 126, with Nathan Magnuson taking four wickets. Ethan Albrecht top-scored with 31 and captain Taylor Tatterson made 30.

The Eagles only needed 22 overs to pass the score for the loss of one wicket.

Daniel Bedggood blasted 52 from 35 balls, while opening partner Brett Lanigan was 49 not out.

It was the first of six consecutive matches the Eagles won to begin the season.

In round 10 at Stratford, the Eagles scored 8-152, with Lee Hopkins scoring 51 and Lanigan 30. Sam Anstee took three wickets for the hosts.

Magnuson again claimed four wickets as the Redbacks were bowled out for 84, with Taylor Tatterson scoring 33.

Magnuson leads the association’s bowling this season, having taken 28 wickets at an average of 11.54.

Spin bowler Ben Durrant, who has taken 18 wickets at 10.1, has been reliable, taking at least one wicket in all bar one match this season.

Bedggood, having scored 520 runs this season at 34.67, will be keen to atone for his golden duck in the semi-final. Bedggood has scored a century this season, and was close to hitting a second in the final round.

Bedgood and Lanigan (307 runs at 23.62) have been a strong opening partnership this season, with the Eagles usually scoring a big total when at last one of them gets a start.

Providing back-up is Maffra captain Josh Davis, who has scored 60 and 51 his past two innings.

While the Eagles approach the grand final having won three of their past four matches, Stratford’s form has been better, winning its previous six.

The Redbacks have been in good form with the bat this season.

Captain Tatterson in recent weeks scored an unbeaten 74 against Sale, then 76 against Boisdale-Briagolong in the semi-final, to move to the top of the association run scorers. With 549 runs at 42.23, Tatterson has six half-centuries to his credit this season.

Andrew Tatterson (367 runs at 30.58) has been a consistent run scorer, making one of only six first grade centuries this season.

Cormac Hassett (331 runs at 22.07) scored 55 in the vital match against Sale a fortnight ago.

Bohdi Walker has been the Redbacks’ leading all-rounder, scoring 299 at 24.92, usually at a quick rate. With 27 wickets at 13.15, Walker has taken at least two scalps in his past seven matches.

Sam Anstee (20 wickets at 22.05) has provided a more than handy spin option.

Stratford will be playing for its sixth first grade premiership, and first since 2014, while victory for Maffra will give it a ninth title, and first since 2012.

The first ball is scheduled to be bowled at noon.

WHILE the SMCA first grade semi-finals produced tight finishes, the lower grades weren’t without their excitement.

Two of the six matches went to the final over, with one of them going to the final ball.

Meeting Bundalaguah at Stephenson Park, Sale, this Saturday, Boisdale-Briagolong earned a spot in the second grade final with a thrilling win over the previously undefeated Stratford at Sale Oval.

Needing to score two runs from the final ball to win, Ed Phelan-Penson brought up victory in style by hitting a four.

The 15-run ninth wicket partnership between Phelan-Penson and Jonathon Outhart helped get the Saints over the line.

Stratford scored 6-151 from its 40 overs, with Dean Devisser scoring 45, Simon Waixel unbeaten on 32 and Lachie Dowd making 23. Austin Anzlezark,

Shaun May and captain Alistair Sandison each claimed two wickets for the Saints.

When the Saints were 4-29 in their chase, Denis Murphy was joined by Sandison for a 41-run partnership. The pair was dismissed in the 23rd over by Jake Rieschtel, Sandison for 20 and Murphy 45.

With the Saints needing 80 more runs to win, Outhart took on the responsibility. He and Craig Stewart (21) added 53 for the eighth wicket.

Stewart’s run out for 21 left the Saints needing 13 runs from 21 balls. Outhart and Phelan-Penson held their nerve to time the chase to perfection.

Rietschel took 3-35 for Stratford and Seb Pendergast 2-8 from six overs.

In the only lower grade semi-final needing to be completed on Sunday because of rain, Bundalaguah defeated Collegians.

The Bulls scored 7-130, led by an unbeaten 55 from Eranda Aponso and 41 from captain Anthony Padula. Jonty McGuiness and Tom Glenn claimed two wickets each for College.

When play was abandoned on Saturday, Collegians was 9-92, and only added two more runs by the time the final wicket fell the following morning.

Henry Anderson and Glenn top-scored with 25 each, with Lachlan Wrigglesworth taking 4-13 and Aponso 3-16 for the Bulls.

ANOTHER minor premier knocked out in the semi-finals was Heyfield in the thirds.

The Kangaroos lost to Longford, which will play Nambrok in the grand final at Nambrok.

Sent in to bat at the Gordon Street Reserve, the Kangaroos struggled to 8-85 from their 40 overs. A 34-run partnership between captain Pete Berryman (26) and Brendon Ronan (25) gave the side something to defend.

Liam Harris took the first three wickets to have the host 3-17. Ash Vogt then claimed two wickets. The Lizards needed only 30 overs to chase down Heyfield’s score, for the loss of four wickets.

Jack Neesham top-scored with 36, while Brett Van Berkel made 28, with Peter Westland taking two wickets for the Kangaroos.

Bowlers also had the better of proceedings in the other semi-final.

After being bowled out for 131, Nambrok bowled Maffra out for 79.

Declan Barnett ensured Nambrok’s total went into triple figures with his 52, while Hayden Mowatt scored 28. Ben Lanigan took 4-25 for the Eagles with Luke Hayne 3-20.

Three Maffra batsmen reached double figures, but none got to 20. Mowatt claimed 3-5 at the end of the innings, while Barnett and Lachlan Hardy claimed two wickets each.

THE fourth grade semi-finals were extraordinary for different reasons.

Stratford defeated Boisdale-Briagolong by four runs, but the manner in which it happened was rare.

Beginning its 35th over 5-146 in reply to the minor premier’s 7-156, Boisdale-Briagolong looked like causing an upset.

Enter Kane Russell. With his second ball he claimed a wicket, and had a second scalp with ball number two of his second over.

The final Saints’ pair worked their way to 7-152 to begin the final over, only for Russell to begin it wicket, wicket, wicket – a hat-trick to end the game and earn the Redbacks a grand final berth.

Russell finished with 5-1 from just 15 balls bowled. Adrian Spence, with 43, Brett McIvor, 33, and Peter Caithness, 32, gave the Saints’ a strong start, before Tilly Pendergast (3-18) played a role in getting her side back into the match.

Earlier, Russell scored an unbeaten 40, Ben Dekker scored 30 not out and Harry Tatterson 25. The other semi-final only stretched into a 25th over, with Collegians too good for the Bundalaguah Yaks.

From 4-33, the Yaks lost their final six wickets in the space of 13 balls without adding to their score.

Among the carnage was a Bailey Carubia hat-trick, as he finished with 3-0 from three overs. Ernie Hug took 3-2 from two overs.

Despite losing a wicket with the score on one, Collegians chalked up victory in 33 balls, with Nick Anderson hitting an unbeaten 22 from 18 deliveries.

Collegians will play Stratford in the grand final at the Stead Street Oval in Sale.