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Coalfields Cup GF: Greta-Branxton determined to avenge 2022/23 disappointment


Greta-Branxton is determined to strike back in this weekend’s Coalfields Cup grand final after the disappointment of 2022/23.

Twelve months ago, the Blues were beaten by the barest of margins to relinquish their cricket crown to Valley/JPC at Howe Park.

On that occasion, the Singletonians managed 117 with the bat and then restricted their Cessnock opponents to 115, claiming the scalp of the last man in a run-out.

And, while Greta-Branxton saw off its old foes a fortnight ago to book a berth in the decider, a new rival has emerged from the wilderness, joint venture Piranhas/Bellbird.

The pair will lock horns for the 2023/24 crown at Miller Park on Saturday 16 March.

“It’s a been a great season so far,” Blues skipper Joey Butler said.

“We’ve enjoyed a lot of success as a team.

“But, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.

“We met Valley/JPC twice – and they got us on both occasions.

“However, we were lucky enough to beat them in the major semi-final by 54 runs.

“We made 177, with Chris Murray anchoring the innings with 43 while Dan Foster (32), Connor Thomson (25) and Brent Watson (17) also chipped in.

“Mark Bercini (4-12), Jace Lawson (2-18) and Pat Andrews (2-30) then played a major role in dismissing them for 123.

“So, we need to produce a similar performance this weekend.

“That’s win the big games and win them well.

“I’ve been really impressed with how the boys have gone all year… if someone’s missed out, someone else has stepped up.

“We’re playing for each other.

“That’s how it’s been throughout the season.”

Butler believes another all-round effort is required to overcome the “Bellfish”.

“Look, we have to score runs, no doubt about it,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“That’s the big thing, obviously.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in our bowlers.

“In fact, they’ve been the difference most of the year.

“But, we’ll need to focus on fielding as well.

“That’s something, which has let us down in recent weeks, even more so just before Christmas.

“So, for us, fielding is key at training [during the week] and on Saturday.

“If we get the runs on the board, then I’ll back our bowlers to do the rest.”

Although Piranhas/Bellbird is preparing to contest its maiden grand final, Butler knows the Bellfish will be no easybeats.

Especially a side, which boasts Rob Drage, Jason Orr, Billy Orr, Joey Main, Joey Barber and Matt Hopley.

“They’ve got plenty of danger players,” he said.

“You don’t make it to the decider otherwise.

“I can name five guys straight away – Joey Main, Rob Drage, Matt Hopley, Jason Orr and Joey Barber, who’s been very impressive this season – and I probably missed a couple.

“They’re a very balanced team.

“However, we don’t take anyone lightly, especially Piranhas/Bellbird.

“We’ll just concentrate on our game and do what we do best.

“In the end, we’ve still got 10 wickets to get.”

The fixture starts at 1pm.

Coalfields Cup grand final teams

  • Greta-Branxton: Mark Bercini, Connor Thomson, Joey Butler, Nathan Holz, Josh Dagg, Chris Murray, Brent Watson, Jace Lawson, Danial Foster, Jamie Moore, Jack Knight (wk), Patrick Andrews, Reuben Andrews
  • Piranhas/Bellbird: Rob Drage, Joey Main, Jason Orr, Mark Crowfoot, Aaron Duffie, Joey Barber, Matt Hopley, Aaron Zechel, James Collins (wk), Luke Sweeney, Aaron Sweeney, Billy Orr

Coalfields Cup grand final

(Saturday 16 March)

First grade

  • Greta-Branxton (1st) v Piranhas/Bellbird (3rd) at Miller Park

Second grade

  • Bellbird (1st) v JPC (2nd) at Howe Park

Third grade

  • Valley (1st) v Hotel Cessnock (3rd) at Cook 3

Fourth grade

  • Wine Country (1st) v Hotel Cessnock (3rd) at Allandale

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