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Coalfields Cup GF: Piranhas/Bellbird keen to put bite on cricket rivals

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Piranhas/Bellbird will hope to replicate the feats of Valley/JPC when it contests its maiden Coalfields Cup cricket grand final this weekend.

In 2022/23, the Singleton outfit accounted for Greta-Branxton in the decider, becoming the first joint venture to win the premiership.

Now, the “Bellfish” – a merger between the Piranhas and Bellbird sides – has an opportunity to follow suit, against the same opponent, at Miller Park on Saturday 16 March.

“From where we were (back in August) to now, it’s been quite an achievement,” captain Joey Main said.

“Two different styles of teams coming together; however, it’s worked out well.

“So, I’m pretty happy with how the guys have blended.

“I think only four of our boys have played in a grand final before… everyone’s pretty excited, pretty pumped.”

Piranhas/Bellbird came from third place to book its spot in the big dance after it ended Valley/JPC’s campaign by four runs in an epic preliminary final at Howe Park.

“We’ve just gelled when it counted,” Main said.

“Luckily, most of the guys play rep cricket together.

“So, even though it was still pretty unknown for the week-to-week matches, they’ve just hung in all year and fought strongly.

“Everyone’s put the interests of each other to the side and played together as a team.

“So, I’m very proud of the boys to be honest.”

Main admitted the Bellfish were expecting a “tough game”.

“I think history shows they’ve always been close matches between us,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Don’t forget, the Blues have contested the past five grand finals, too, so there’s a bit of motivation to knock them over.

“But, we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“The fact the guys from both teams have played rep cricket with each other, and know each other well, I’m expecting it to be played in good spirit.

“Sure, everyone wants to win, however the games are played pretty fairly.

“At the end of the day, both teams will still want to come out on top.

“And, no matter what happens, we’ll all have beer with each other afterwards.

“That’s pretty important in my eyes.

“Overall, it’s good for Cessnock cricket to have us and Greta-Branxton in the decider.

“We’ve got some good juniors coming through as well, so we’re hanging in there as an association.

“Then you look at what the John Bull rep side has done over the past three seasons.

“It bodes well for the future.

“Actually, the entire John Bull team is playing in the grand final, except for one or two players, so it’ll be the best of the best out there on the weekend.”

Like his Blues counterpart Joey Butler, Main can’t separate the two rivals.

“Both sides are very well-balanced; there’s no easy wickets or easy runs,” he said.

“It’ll be a matter of who can hang in there the longest.

“Greta-Branxton boast the experience of Jace Lawson, while Connor Thomson’s having a cracker of a season.

“They have a few key players, including Joey (Butler), who usually stands up in the big games.

“I think he scored 60-odd in the semis last year.

“It’s an even game, so the best team on the day will win.

“Whoever takes their chances and gets a bit of luck, it’ll go a long way to winning the match.”

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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