By Chris Anderson
Finals arrived this weekend, and with it brought a whole new level of intensity and nervousness.
In DJ Strachan Shield, the Semi Final clash between Mount Evelyn and Warburton-Millgrove was a tense affair as both teams struggled with the bat under the intense pressure of finals cricket.
Warburton-Millgrove gladly accepted the opportunity to bat in brilliant conditions on day one, but found it extremely difficult from the outset.
The Burras openers, Tyson Walker and Finn Saurine fell victim early and the innings battled to get off the ground.
Young star Bailey Humphrey and the experienced Liam Barnard seemed to have the visitors back on track, but their steadying partnership was broken when it was on the verge of blossoming.
From there the wheels fell off as Kane Jones, Darcy Fraser and Gareth Fraser ripped through an unsuspecting and impatient Burras lineup to see them quickly fall from 2/30 to 9/47.
The Mounters had them reeling, and there was a real prospect of the visitors being dismissed before afternoon tea for less than 50.
Wise heads, Adam Humphrey and Cam Darwall, proceeded to resurrect the floundering innings just purely and simply by putting some value on their wickets.
Although the resistance didn’t last long after tea, the pair had pushed the total to 89, and had given the Burras a whisker of hope.
There were times the Mounters looked in control, but that was inevitably broken with an ill-timed wicket.
Stuart Thompson was brilliant up front, and his extended opening spell, which netted three wickets, gave the Burras real hope of a remarkable upset.
When stumps were drawn, Mount Evelyn had limped to 5/61.
Thompson would finish with a five wicket haul, but his team didn’t produce enough runs on day one.
Mt Evelyn would scrape through with just three wickets in hand.
In the other DJ Strachan Shield semi-final, Seville hosted Wandin, and the home team made all the running on day one.
Although he lost his opening partner early, Tim Thorne wasn’t about to sit and watch his team suffer a similar fate as they did in the last round being bowled out for 50.
His cavalier approach put a bit of effort onus back on the Seville bowlers who have been largely unchallenged over recent months through skilful, economical bowling.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Thorne’s cameo just didn’t last long enough to seriously challenge the home team.
The Bulldogs would follow with a host of starts, but regular wickets would inevitably halt their progress.
Even with the score at 4/74 approaching tea, the visitors had the opportunity to push the total to a challenging one, particularly with Edwards at the wicket.
The opportunity wouldn’t be taken, and the Bulldogs would soon lose 4/14 to put the skids on the innings. Marcus Smith (5/46) and Andy Kay (2/20) proved irrepressible through the middle part of the innings as they ground it to a halt.
Wandin would find some bonus runs through their tail, but were bowled out for a disappointing 110, considering there were windows of hope throughout the early part of the innings.
Father and son duo, Liam Kay and Andrew Kay ensured the Blues would reach stumps on day one without too much drama, finishing the day on 1/26.
That leaves Mount Evelyn and Seville to fight it out in the grand final.
In RA Finger Trophy action, Woori Yallock established themselves as the team to beat as they brushed past Mount Evelyn to book their place in next week’s decider after just one day of action.
The day started brightly enough for the Mounters as openers Darren Westaway and Luke Paterson showed they were up for the fight getting through the opening overs unscathed, but once the wheel started turning the Tigers way, the visitors found it hard to wrestle back the initiative.
0/27 was soon 3/32, and the Woori Yallock bowlers took control of the contest.
Mt Evelyn would eventually fall for 115.
Woori Yallock raced to the total within 18 overs without the loss of a wicket.
Ryan Smith (74 not out) and Mick Dwyer (39 not out) were imperious in their pursuit of victory.
Woori Yallock’s Grand Final opponents will be Gruyere after they outlasted Seville in a tight contest.
Playing in the wide expanses of the Coldstream Reserve, Jake McInness ensured the Blues would start on the front foot, and a 37 run opening partnership with Matt Hadlum had them travelling in the right direction.
It wasn’t a complete annihilation, but when batters numbered three to nine don’t reach double figures; your team is in a spot of bother.
A late cameo from Cameron Laycock avoided total disaster, but the total still failed to reach three figures as Seville were bowled out for 95.
Gruyere didn’t manage the remainder of day one with much aplomb either, and kept Seville in the contest finishing on 3/27 at the end of day one.
With the game on a tightrope, the experienced pairing of Matt Tilney (37 not out) and Rowan Prouse (26 not out) ensured that the Scorpions would have little difficulty in keeping things together in pursuit of the relatively small total.
They would pass the total with just the loss of one wicket on day two to book themselves a date with Woori Yallock in the RA Finger Trophy Final.
DJ STRACHAN SHIELD – SEMI FINALS
Warburton-Millgrove 10/89 defeated by Mt Evelyn 7/90
Seville 2/115 defeated Wandin 10/110
RA FINGER TROPHY
Mt Evelyn 10/115 defeated by Woori Yallock 0/118
Seville 10/95 defeated by Gruyere District 4/97
C GRADE – SEMI FINAL
Seville 6/166 defeated by Marysville 6/171
Wandin 10/130 defeated Yarra Glen 10/129
D GRADE – QUALIFYING FINALS
Powelltown 9/157 defeated by Mt Evelyn 5/161
Yarra Junction 5/197 defeated Wandin 8/150
Seville 8/150 defeated Warburton-Millgrove 9/132
16 & UNDER – GRAND FINAL
Seville 7/181 defeated Warburton-Millgrove 10/95
UNDER 14 – GRAND FINAL
Healesville 9/125 defeated Warburton 10/100
UNDER 12 – GRAND FINAL
Hoddles Creek 4/127 defeated Launching Place 8/70