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Piranhas/Bellbird books grand final berth after thrilling win

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Piranhas/Bellbird will take on minor premiers Greta-Branxton in the Coalfields Cup first grade cricket decider at Miller Park this weekend.

The competition’s newest joint venture club booked its place in the big dance following a four-run victory in what was a thrilling finish to end defending champions Valley/JPC’s aspirations of going back-to-back at Howe Park on Saturday.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Bellfish scrambled to a modest 150 after being bowled out in the 37th over.

Joey Barber held the innings together with a timely 45 in the middle order, with Matt Hopley (27), skipper Joey Main (22) and club secretary Rob Drage (20) making starts.

Luke Dempster (2-23 off 6), Tristan Muir (2-40 off 7), Archit Bele (2-28 off 7) and Brandon Carman (2-9 off 4.1) all picked up a brace of wickets for the home side.

Docked two overs due to a slow bowling rate, Valley/JPC got off to a solid start, losing its first wicket with 48 already on the board.

But, a massive turning point was the removal of their X-factor man Isaac Barry when he spooned a miss-timed drive to cover for 13.

Wickets then fell at regular intervals.

Down to the final over, they required 12 for victory.

And, with one ball remaining, a four was still needed for a tie.

Unfortunately for Valley/JPC, Mewa Jeetarwal – who had compiled a fine 38 – made good contact but could not beat the man at deep mid-wicket.

He was run out coming back for the second.

Kye Dann also contributed 38 at the top of the order, with opening partner Brandon Carman snaring 19.

Billy Orr was the pick of the Bellfish attack with 2-26 off 7, with Aaron Zechel securing vital wickets in his 2-35 off 5.

The second grade preliminary final was a bit lop-sided as Bellbird took advantage of its second crack at a decider by trouncing Creeks by 118 at Carmichael Park.

The team amassed a healthy 5-229 from its 40 after being sent into bat.

An opening stand of 121 between Shannon Attewell (77) and Jon Schatz (61) laid the platform, with Stef Durie given the green light to free up his arms as he blasted 61 from just 35 deliveries.

Joey Millington (12no) happily watched the onslaught from the other end.

Chris Unicomb (2-22 off 8) and Fraser Wilson (2-47 off 8) picked up a couple of wickets each for the visitors.

Creeks struggled to gain any sort of momentum in reply due to the loss of regular wickets… and they were eventually all out in the 25th over for 111.

Wilson (56) capped a fine all-round game with a fighting half century, with Adam Morris providing some support with 18no.

Brett Pitkin bowled beautifully for the hosts with 4-24 off 8.

Attewell also completed an excellent day at the office with 2-31 off 6, while Jack Swift (2-30 off 4.2) was the other wicket-taker.

This sets up a great showdown for the purists as last season’s CDCA champions take on last year’s SDCA premiers.

Hotel Cessnock made it through to the finale following a comfortable seven-wicket triumph over Greta-Branxton at Drain Oval.

The latter was sent into bat first and dismissed in the 38th over for 102.

Andrew Taylor was their best with 26, with Ben Regan (19) and Nigel Charnock (18) the only other batsmen to reach double figures.

Matt Bullen was the pick of the Mongrels attack with 3-17 off 8, with Dave Cooper (2-19 off 8), Heath Cameron (2-26 off 8) and Ashton Williams (2-13 off 5.3) all combining nicely to keep a lid on things.

The home side had little dramas reeling in the target inside 29 overs in reply, losing just the three scalps on the way. 

Rob Jordan carried his bat with an unbeaten 43, receiving great support from district treasurer Jordan Field (31no) and Ben Rowlands (15).

Taylor completed a good all-round game for Greta-Branxton, taking 2-24 off 5 in a well-beaten side.

Hotel Cessnock also won through to the fourth grade decider following a nail-biting eight-run win over Greta-Branxton in the qualifying semi at Miller Park No. 1.

They managed to defend their 96 total after being sent in to bat.

Graham Stoker was their best with 25, with Sam Russell (19) and skipper Matt Blake and Harry Ward (12-apiece) making starts.

Greta-Branxtnon’s Henry Beverley was their best with the two-piece, bagging 4-16 off 8, with Peter Watson (2-12 off 5.2) and Ash Waters (2-6 off 4) chipping in with a couple each.

The match remained evenly-poised throughout the Blues’ run-chase, with the wicket of Beverley for a well-made 50 to cap a fine all-round game proving to be a telling moment in the match.

They were dismissed in the 30th over just nine shy of the target, with skipper Zac Watkins making 17.

Blake’s spell of 5-29 off 8 proved to be the difference in the end, with Dylan Stoker (2-25 off 8) and Karl Capararo (2-19 off 4.5) offering support.

They will take on minor premiers Wine Country who comfortably accounted for Supporters by six wickets in the other qualifying semi at Allandale.

Chasing just 65 for victory, the Wood Ducks achieved this in the 13th over after losing four wickets.

Skipper Mark Hollis (29no), Myles Crosdale (19no) and Matt Hollis (13) did enough to ensure they get a crack at making it back-to-back titles.

Scott Minter picked up 3-18 off five for Supporters.

Earlier in the afternoon, Kobe Minter (30) and Jamie Butt (14) were Supporters’ best willowmen in their total of 64, with Tobias Shields (3-13 off 4), Gary Rauber (2-9 off 4) and Chris O’Neill (2-13 off 4) standing out in the Wood Duck attack.

  • Mark Bercini

Grand final fixtures

Saturday 16 March (1pm)

First grade

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

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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