SHARK week in March? Who says no.

Ex Students marched to the inaugural Cricket Latrobe Valley Premier A premiership at the weekend.

Taking to Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe, Ex Students faced the last Traralgon District Cricket Association A Grade premier, Glengarry, in the first CLV Premier A decider.

For the fourth season in a row, Ex Students and Glengarry would meet on the final day of their seasons, following three consecutive TDCA A Grade Grand Finals.

Glengarry won in the 2020/21 season, before Ex Students flipped the script in 2021/22, and the Magpies returned serve 12 months later.

Ex Students are no strangers to the big dance, playing in an A Grade Grand Final for the last 12 consecutive seasons.

Since the 2012/13 season when Ex Students made the first of the Grand Finals in their current run, they have won six TDCA A Grade premierships, and can now add a CLV flag to that list.

After the TDCA merged with the Latrobe Valley District Cricket League, Ex Students and Glengarry proved they were still the two teams to beat throughout the Valley, claiming the top two spots on the ladder in Premier A.

Fortunately for all involved, the weather was near-on perfect as the two grand finalists graced themselves onto the wicket.

Nat Freitag won the toss on Saturday and elected to bowl, sending Ex Students opponents Mitch Membrey and captain James Pryde in to open the batting.

Freitag’s decision to bowl looked like a good one in the early stages of the Grand Final, as the Magpies held the Sharks by the scruff.

Glengarry had the Sharks scrambling after just 12 overs, taking three wickets within the first hour.

Cam Graham got the ball rolling in the fifth over, using the new ball to his advantage to snag the wicket of Membrey for 10.

Just four overs later, the new-to-the-crease Matt Dyke was sent packing after just 11 deliveries for one run, when he was dismissed almost identically, caught behind off the bowling of Graham.

Things went from bad to worse, as Lee Stockdale had his innings brought to an abrupt end, when he was caught for an eight-ball duck in the 12th over, thanks to the bowling of the Glengarry captain.

With the score reading 3/17, some serious work was needed to be done by the middle order to ensure a respectable total was posted.

Jackson McMahon walked to the crease to join captain Pryde in the middle, and the pair batted for nearly three hours.

They kept the scoreboard ticking at a respectable rate, and before you knew it, after nearly 50 overs, they were both approaching their half centuries.

Pryde, on a carefully made 49, perked up to face Freitag, hoping to knock one more run past for his half-century, but Freitag had other ideas.

The Glengarry captain sent the ball straight through him to knock him over, but nonetheless, the fourth-wicket partnership did exactly what it needed to do.

Pryde and McMahon took the score from 3/17 to 4/107, and with the dismissal of Pryde, McMahon stepped up in his absence.

McMahon was only able to continue his work if the batters down the other end could stick around, and that theory didn’t start according to plan.

Mitch Harris stepped up to the wicket, and faced three balls before he too was caught behind for a duck, igniting Glengarry’s chances.

Freitag suddenly had two in an over, and Ex Students’ tail was becoming exposed, the score reading 5/107.

Rick Battista, a more than capable batter, joined McMahon to continue to pile on the runs and bat throughout the day.

Battista added 27 in somewhat hasty fashion compared to the rest of the innings, but he drew the short end of the stick in the 75th over.

After a drive from McMahon, Battista was caught ball watching, and when he turned around McMahon was half way down the wicket, forcing him to sprint helplessly to the striker’s end.

Despite falling to 6/156, the Sharks were still in good stead with McMahon still alive at the crease on 65 not out.

The next batter, Daniel Trease, was able to do a similar job to Battista, watching McMahon edge closer to a century.

McMahon began to get a move on, adding 30-odd runs in the space of 15 overs, allowing Trease to negotiate the strike.

It worked perfectly, as Trease was able to stick around long enough to see McMahon go to his century – his third of the season.

At the same time the tally hit 200 runs, with the Sharks now in a commanding position.

Max Merton saw the back of Trease, going shorter and seeing Trease pop a catch ball up at mid-wicket.

Again, another wicket fell, but Glengarry weren’t claiming them in quick succession, allowing the Sharks to add more runs in the meantime.

McMahon met his fifth partner in the middle when Michael Warne stepped into bat with the scoreboard reading 7/200.

McMahon had looked comfortable as ever at the crease, but he soon met his match when Merton trapped him in front of his stumps, sending him back to the sheds for an incredible Grand Final knock of 108, which included 12 boundaries.

At the end of play on Day 1, Ex Students were eight down, but had 230 runs to their name, with Warne and Andrew Mathews in the middle.

After 105 long overs of cricket, little did they know they would be in for much of the same on Day 2.

Ex Students chose to bat on into Day 2, and lasted seven of the 10 available overs. Warne and Matthews fell for 19 and 12 respectively, leaving the Sharks to defend 248.

Statistically at least, it was just the second time Ex Students had surpassed 200 runs in an innings for the season.

All was very much in the air in the early stages of Glengarry’s innings, but the fate of the Grand Final soon began to take shape, and it went rapidly in one direction.

Glengarry were fast starters, smashing 13 runs within two overs, but that was quickly brought to a halt when Matthews struck first for the Sharks.

After just creaming a six, Frank Marks was trapped in front and given out for eight of five balls.

Visibly unhappy with the decision, Marks whacked his bat into the turf before reluctantly walking back to the pavilion.

Freitag joined vice-captain Alistair Jenkin in the middle, needing to keep themselves in the contest and not allowing the Magpies to lose wickets cheaply.

They did their job to an extent, but I’m sure they wished they could’ve done just a little bit more.

With the score 1/49, Jenkin and Freitag had added 36 to the total in the space on 15 overs, and with nine wickets in the shed, they were ticking along nicely.

Everything soon took a turn for the worst for the Magpies however, as they slowly saw the flag fall from their fingertips.

Freitag was bowled by Sharks captain Pryde after making a valiant 27 (41 balls), including four boundaries, but his replacement Sam Marks lasted just 13 deliveries, making four runs, before he was also dismissed by Pryde.

It was now 5/53.

Hamish Busk was sent in at number four and did quite a bit of defending during his time at the crease. Almost no scoring was on the cards as Glengarry hoped for some stability first.

In the space of eight overs, the Magpies added six runs before they lost another man.

Busk departed for three off 30, and all of a sudden, Pryde had three wickets to his name, and a hell of a lot of momentum up his sleeve.

In his next two overs, Pryde had his five-fa, picking up the wickets of number five batter Graham for a five-ball duck, and opener Jenkin for a patient 20 off 78.

Glengarry were in tatters at 6/64, needing 185 to win with only four wickets in hand, making it a near-on impossible job.

Glengarry’s tail was put to task to either record an unbelieve victory, or to at least put a valiant total on the board.

They made some progress. Chris Dunn put on 22 runs before he was the next to go, starting another onslaught of wickets.

Now 7/114, the Sharks began to tear the Magpies apart, right at the death.

Nathan Allen and Brandon Mayberry became victims to the bowling of Stockdale, who picked up two wickets in quick succession, putting him on a hat-trick.

Now 9/118, Ben Marks and Merton toyed around with the 56-over ball.

Marks smashed 39, featuring five fours, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough, perhaps too little too late for Glengarry.

Stockdale would eventually pick up his third, the final wicket of the season, when Ben Marks was caught by Dyke at mid wicket to claim premiership honours.

There was elation on field for Ex Students, who have gone back-and-forth with Glengarry over the last four years, which has now seen both clubs pick up two premierships each.

Proud: Ex Students captain James Pryde lifts the Cricket Latrobe Valley Premier A trophy. Photograph: Tom Hayes

McMahon was named Man of the Match for his incredible Day 1 century.

Dare I say, a close second would surely have been captain Pryde, who fell one short of a half-century and claimed five-fa with the ball.

Ex Students hane now claimed seven flags and made every Grand Final since the 2012/13 season – simply incredible.

How much longer will the Sharks’ reign continue over Cricket Latrobe Valley?