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Greta-Branxton gives ‘Bellfish’ the Blues in epic cricket decider

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Greta-Branxton erased the disappointment of losing the 2022/23 Coalfields Cup by claiming this season’s title at the weekend.

Twelve months after relinquishing the crown to Valley/JPC, the Blues captured their sixth first grade premiership in defeating Piranhas/Bellbird in an incredible finale at Branxton’s Miller Park.

In a match that had more twists and turns than a soap opera, Greta-Branxton secured the coveted Coalfields Cup by a mere two runs in front of a healthy and vocal crowd.

Fittingly, it was truly a fantastic decider between the competition’s two best sides.

Greta-Branxton skipper Joey Butler hold the Coalfields Cup aloft.

Greta-Branxton skipper Joey Butler won just his third toss of the season and elected to bat first.

The Blues accumulated their innings nicely to post a healthy 8-201 in the 40-over contest.

Most batsmen made starts, with Chris Murray continuing on from his sturdy knock in the major semi a fortnight ago.

He top-scored with a well-made 46, Nathan Holz wasted no time in his 41, which included five maximums, with Butler (27), Connor Thomson (26), Mark Bercini (24), Josh Dagg (13) and Danial Foster (13) all contributing to the total.

Matt Hopley (2-35 off 8), Aaron Sweeney (2-34 off 7) and captain Joey Main (2-34 off 8) all picked up a brace of wickets for Piranhas/Bellbird.

The Bellfish got off to a flyer in pursuit of the target, putting on an opening stand of 107 before Jason Orr was eventually out for 22.

Meanwhile, at the other end, club secretary Rob Drage struck the ball as cleanly as anyone has witnessed throughout this year’s competition.

In probably what should have been a match-winning knock, he raised the bat for his century when he lofted the four-piece over long-on for his eighth maximum of the innings in the 27th over.

Drage was eventually knocked over for 109, facing just 86 balls along the way, in a superb effort, which also included eight boundaries.

The visitors were still sitting in a comfortable position at 3-150 with just over 12 overs remaining.

However, a major collapse saw them lose their final seven wickets for 49.

Down to the final over, you could almost hear a pin drop among the spectators as Patrick Andrews (2-45 off 7.2) knocked over Aaron Duffie, who had made a cool 27 in a controlled knock.

That brought No. 11 willowman Aaron Sweeney to the crease.

And, with the home crowd sensing a miracle comeback unfolding, the Blues snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when Andrews pitched the ball full to trap Sweeney in front leg before wicket.

Brent Watson took 2-59 off 8, Jamie Moore picked up 2-27 off 8 including the crucial wicket of Drage, with Mark Bercini (2-20 off 3) also snaring a couple of scalps.

Celebrations continued well on into the night at nearby sponsor The Royal Federal Hotel, capping a stellar year for the Greta-Branxton club who made it a minor/major premiership double. 

The combined CDCA and SDCA senior presentations will take place at Club Singleton on Saturday 20 April.

  • Mark Bercini

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