THE stages are set of the first Cricket Latrobe Valley Grand Finals, as the inaugural season comes to a close this weekend.

Going into the weekend, four teams each stepped up to the plate in Premier A and A Grade, with only two progressing in each grade to the Grand Final.


Premier A Grade

TWO excellent displays of defence in their own respects got their sides over the line, which sets up a mouth-watering decider.

Ex Students took on Moe at Terry Hunter Reserve over the weekend, while Glengarry and Raiders did battle in Glengarry.


Ex Students drew with Moe

HOW did Ex Students manage that?

Ex Students pulled off a monster defensive display to see themselves through to the CLV Premier A Grade Grand Final.

Moe won the toss and elected to bat first on Day 1, which saw things begin in a shaky, but steady start.

It took until the 11th over for Ex Students to strike, as Moe slowly started their innings.

Captain Noah Kane was the first to depart for Moe, caught behind off the bowling of Mitch Harris for five runs.

With the score already 1/16, Moe were in no rush to get things underway.

About double the number of overs elapsed, while almost double the number of runs had been scored before Ex Students struck again, this time through Adam Brady.

Andrew Philip was the next man sent packing, after being caught for eight. With the score reading 2/26, it wasn’t time to panic yet, as Josh Keyhoe was carefully building his innings.

Riley Baldi was the next man in, and the next man out thanks to a moment that Moe might like to forget.

A mix-up between the wickets caused Baldi to head back to the sheds for just 11, moments after striking a ball to the fence.

But at 3/55, things were beginning to tick over for Moe.

Benn Zomer was the next victim to the Ex Students’ machine, departing for just 15 runs with the score reading 4/89.

Little did they know what that number would mean in about a day’s time.

But in came the ever-reliable Rob Phoenix, who did his job as a middle order batter to set things straight and stop any chances of a collapse.

And that he did.

Phoenix and Keyhoe together put on 63 runs for the fifth wicket. But just as Keyhoe was getting into his groove, he was upended off the bowling of James Pryde.

Keyhoe blasted six fours and a six on his way to 81 off 209 deliveries. At 5/152, things quickly deescalated for Moe.

Moe then lost 4/5 in the space of five overs, which saw Evan Sheeky depart via LBW for one, Callum Grant was bowled for a duck, Phoenix then fell into the Ex Students’ trap after making a potentially match-saving 33, and Aaron Johnstone also went for a duck.

Patrick Spiteri (8*) and Clinton Taylor (7) steered Moe to 173 after 85 overs.

Harris was outstanding with the ball for Ex Students, collecting 3/9 for 13 overs. Captain Pryde also picked up a three-fa (3/42) from 16 of his overs.

Lee Stockdale, Brady and Warne all collected one each, while Brady/Pryde claimed the run out of Baldi earlier in the innings.

Despite a strong-ish 23-run stand for the opening wicket, things twisted to the worst for Ex Students, who completely lost their grip on the match, something that Moe only just avoided.

Matt Robertson eased his way 20 before he was bowled by Johnstone. Then the breeze of the match shifted.

Ex Students suffered a collapse of their own, losing 4/6 within two overs.

The game had flipped on its head.

Pryde was caught behind for four, Stockdale and Hayden Richards both departed for ducks and Harris also couldn’t get past four.

Ex Students were hanging on by a thread, and that might just be the thing that kept their chances of the premiership alive.

Rick Battista made a trying 16 from 29, all of his runs coming from fours. Daniel Trease was trapped in front of his wicket to bring the score to 7/62.

Andrew Matthews was the final wicket for Ex Students, scoring a duck, but the game wasn’t over.

In came Michael Warne, joining Matt Dyke at the crease.

It was now a game of survival. And boy, they did survive.

After finishing on top of the ladder, Ex Students needed a draw at the minimum to proceed to the Grand Final, so all that was needed was to bat out the day and they would progress.

The final wicket of Matthews happened with the last ball of the 39th over. Dyke and Warne batted for the remained of the day, 46 overs to be exact, to get their side over the line and into a Grand Final. Their score reading 8/89 from 84.5 overs.

The two were essentially brick walls, as Dyke scored 29 from 226 balls, and Warne – at number 10 – facing 115 balls for six runs. Both not out.

Just like that, Ex Students were through in dramatic, but extraordinary circumstances. They finished on top of the ladder for a reason.

Amazingly, Dyke was Ex Students’ top scorer with his 29*.

For the bowling side, a 4/40 spell from Johnstone wasn’t enough to propel his team any further.

Ex Students have one hand on the premiership now.


Glengarry def Raiders

THEIR Grand Final opponents did things the old-fashioned way.

Glengarry hosted Raiders at Fred King Oval, won the toss and elected to send the visitors in to bat.

Boy, did that turn out to be a masterstroke.

Glengarry skittled Raiders fairly easily, striking early as the score read 1/1, Rob Webber sent packing for a golden duck.

Yes, Raiders did pick up the pace, but maybe because they realised how quickly things could go sour if they didn’t.

George Chesire and Michael Higgins worked hand-in-hand, getting the Raiders’ score to 2/33 by the time Chesire was dismissed by Nathan Freitag.

The score didn’t get a chance to move before the next wicket fell, as the two wicket-takers at the time, Graham and Freitag combined for the wicket of Higgins.

Higgins made 19, hitting three boundaries. He would collect the highest score for Raiders.

At 3/33, some saving was needed, and all batters tried to be that man, but it was no use.

Captain Liam Maynard mustered his energy for 12 before he departed, and Ben Burrows exposed the tail with his exit for two runs, the score 5/49.

Thomas Robertson added an important 13 before he was dismissed by Freitag. An important 13 because it stopped the game from ending any sooner.

But that was just about all she wrote for Raiders, who lost their last four wickets five wickets for eight runs.

Burkeley Macfarlane, Boyd Bailey and Jeevan Varghese all made ducks, while Harrison McColl was not out on two.

Freitag was unstoppable with 6/15 off 11 overs. In a semi-final. Wow.

Graham still collected 3/27 from his 11, while Nathan Allen picked up the final wicket of the innings.

Still on Day 1, Glengarry then went into bat after bowling for only a little over 30 overs.

With about 50 overs up their sleeves, they had more than enough time to chase down the Raiders’ total and gain a probable unassailable lead.

That they did.

Glengarry only lost two wickets before they had already caught the required runs.

Alistair Jenkin (12 runs) and Frank Marks (56) were unable to be there to hit the winning runs, but definitely played their hand in helping.

Marks smacked nine fours during his innings to propel Glengarry to a leading position.

Glengarry batted out for the rest of the day, getting to a score of 7/180, then Raiders made the decision which would send Glengarry through to the Grand Final.

After the day’s play a chat was had between the two teams, where it was decided that it was too fair for Raiders to make a comeback of their own, calling it quits.

Glengarry earn an extra day’s rest over Ex Students who battled all throughout Day 2 of their semi-final.

Both sides will be out to secure the very first CLV Premier A Grade premiership this weekend, with everything on the line.

When push comes to shove, who will budge and who will flex their muscles?

All will be unfolded this weekend.


A Grade

TRARALGON Imperials and Centrals will battle it out for premiership glory in the CLV A Grade this week.

Both sides passed the preliminary tests, by defeating their semi-final counterparts and have earnt the right to have a go at the flag.


Imperials def Rovers

THE Imps did it with relative ease over Rovers in the first semi-final at Duncan Cameron Oval, Traralgon.

Rovers won the toss and elected to bat, it what turned out to be the first of four innings across two days of cricket.

Things were off to a tough start for Rovers, losing 2/2 early in the piece, the wickets being both openers, Liam Little (duck) and Tyler Pearce (2). Thus, bringing two brand-new batters to the crease.

Oliver Hannam and Dougal Williams did as much as they could to get Rovers out of their rut, adding 27 runs for the third wicket before Williams was caught for just four runs.

Hannam welcomed captain Ewan Williams to the crease, who could only make three runs before being bowled by Imperials’ Todd Mann.

Hannam had his third batting partner when Stefan Sbaglia arrived, but he soon became Mann’s fourth victim when he departed for two. The score read a dismal 5/39.

It would soon get harder for Rovers, who lost Hannam for 33 runs to, guess who, Mann, who completed his five-fa.

The remaining four wickets would add just three runs between them as Rovers would be trickled over for just 51 runs.

Mann was the star for Imperials, bowling with figures of 7/20 from 15.2 overs. Dilshan Thilakarathne managed 2/3 with the ball and Dominic Thompson snagged the other wicket.

In reply, the Imperials scored 132, thanks to the fifth-wicket partnership of Nilantha Thilekarathna and Shane Galea.

Imperials were in trouble early at 4/16, before the two steadied the ship, adding 59 for the fifth wicket.

Thillekarathna scored 28 before his departure which left the score reading 5/75. But Ewan Williams was soon on a hat-trick when he got the wicket of Joel Randall for a golden duck.

Some handy batting in the tail got Imperials to a respectable tally of 132 after all wickets were spent.

Ewan Williams took the second seven-fa in the match with figures of 7/36, almost adding a hat-trick to that feat. Vice-captain Lachlan Patterson managed two wickets and Simon Duff the other.

Rovers returned to the crease to add 131 in their second innings, which was highlighted by Hannam and Patterson who both scored 32, while Dougal Williams played admirably for his 24 runs.

The third five-fa in the match kept it alive, with Joel Randall taking 5/37 in the second innings. Mann, Thilakarathne and Thompson taking the other five between them.

Imperials just needed 20 overs to hit the winning runs.

Opener Anubhav Anubhav scored 25 from 51 to guide Imperials to the Grand Final.

Patterson collected another three wickets for his efforts, but it would be no use in the grand scheme of things. Duff picked up the other.

Winning by six wickets, Imperials were through, doing so easily in the end.


Centrals def Gormandale

CENTRALS put up a big enough total to defend Gormandale in the second semi-final.

The Tigers won the toss and bowled, which could hold the answers as to why their season ended at the weekend.

It took a while for Centrals to get off the mark after losing their first three batters for seven runs or less; Andrew Slimmon (7), Lachlan Speairs (duck), Sam Gray (6).

Gormandale would have no answers in the next period of the game, with captain Tye Hourigan, Mark Rawson and Corey Pollard each visiting the crease. Some for longer than others.

Hourigan managed 28 before he was caught and bowled by Nick Scammell, and Pollard was caught for 21.

But Rawson had the answer to everything, knocking a marvellous 98 from 150 in striking fashion.

Rawson hit eight fours and two sixes, but just missed out on a century, to the hands of Nathanael Campbell and Yohan Soyza.

Gormandale threw eight different bowlers into the mix to try and dismiss Rawson, but only one came to fruition.

Soyza, who got the all-important wicket, took 4/33, while vice-captain Dylan Freitag took 2/22. Campbell Peavey, Campbell and Scammell each took one wicket.

At the conclusion of the Centrals innings, they had totalled 200, on the dot. A tough total to chase down if this week was anything to go by.

Gormandale set off on a steady run chase, but they soon realised they were being out-muscled and out-classed.

When they only had two batters score over 20, it was then they realised that they were a while off the mark this time around.

Peavey scored 32 from 66, while Scammell scored 21 after opening the batting.

But following 57 and a half over of cricket, Gormandale were 94 runs short of their target, with no wickets left in their dispensary.

Centrals’ Marc Fenech took 4/49, not to be outdone by teammate Tyron Gamage who took 4/24.

Captain Tye Hourigan and Corey Pollard took the remaining two wickets between them.