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SUBURBAN DISTRICTS GF: Mary Ellen Mudrats keen to defend title

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The Mary Ellen Mudrats’ plan to defend their Newcastle District Cricket Association’s Suburban Districts division one crown is falling into place.

Now, they just need to overcome minor premiers Port Stephens Pythons in this weekend’s decider at Feighan Oval in Warners Bay.

Following a tough season for every club, it all comes down to this fixture.

And, fittingly, the showdown will pit first versus second after the Mudrats finished with 42 points on the table – three behind the Pythons.

“We’re happy with how we’ve gone,” team member Mac Price said.

“Obviously, it’s been a disrupted year.

“But, all the sides are in the same boat.

“The most pleasing aspect of 2021/22 for the Mudrats is that we’ve shown a lot of depth this season.

“A large number of players have rotated throughout the team each week.

“Yet, we’ve still been able to perform consistently at a high level.”

The Mary Ellen outfit received a massive scare in last Saturday’s semi-final at Connolly Park.

Unheralded Wests Journeymen took the battle right down to the wire after compiling 8-172.

In reply, the Mudrats lost Luke Evans, to be 1-1, before captain Cameron Roxby, Joshua Forsyth and Jaren Owen steadied the ship.

However, a mini collapse, saw the team slump to 5-159.

It was then left to the ever-reliable Roxby, with an unbeaten 66, and Josh Bennett (4 not out) to guide them to victory with five balls to spare.

“Yeah, it was an exciting finish going into the last over,” Price said.

“It made the win all that much better, especially with the boys holding their nerve.

“But, it was nice to play cricket again after a couple of washouts recently.

“I also think it was the match we needed leading into a grand final.

“It was a hard-fought game.

“And, at the end of the day, it was good to play some cricket against some good competition.

“So, it’s prepared us very well to face the Pythons.”

The Mudrats slipped quietly through the home and away rounds without any fanfare, notching up eight victories with just two losses.

However, the sparkling form of Roxby, Forsyth and Bennett has been undeniable.

In 11 outings, the skipper belted 248 runs, at an average of 49.60, smashing an unbeaten 66 against Wests at the weekend.

For good measure, Roxby’s claimed 16 wickets, too, at 8.12 apiece, including a 4-8 rout of Premier Hotel.

Forsyth’s stood tall as well.

With the willow, he’s amassed 275 – buoyed by three half centuries – at an average of 45.80.

And, then there’s Bennett, who’s collected 16 scalps for a measly 206 (12.87).

That haul included 4-12 against the Adamstown Rosebuds.

“Those three have led by example all season,” Price said.

“They’ve been successful with the bat, while Cameron and Josh have also been our strike weapons with the ball.

“As for the pressure of being defending premiers, I don’t think we’ve felt that.

“We’re just enjoying our cricket – and happy to play week-in week-out when we can.”

What makes this Saturday’s fixture so appealing is the fact that neither outfit has locked horns with the other in 2021/22.

But, it just adds an extra element to the all-important clash, according to Price.

“It’s a shame we haven’t met this year,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, we played them last season.

“So, we know they’ve got a couple of really good batsmen in their ranks.

“Hopefully, cracking through that top order early on will put us on the path to victory.

“It should be a great battle.

“But, we’re motivated to go back-to-back.

“It also makes it all the more special that the other Mudrats team is in a grand final, too.

“It would be nice to celebrate two titles [within the club] this year.”

Suburban Districts grand final

Saturday 26 March

Division one

  • 1pm: Port Stephens Pythons v Mary Ellen Mudrats (Feighan Oval 1)

Division two

  • Kotara v Warners Bay (Cahill Oval)

Division three

  • Maryland Fletcher v Beach Hotel (Charlestown Oval)

Division four

  • Edgeworth v Kotara (Connolly Park)

Division five

  • Kotara v Adamstown Brown Munde (Jesmond Park)

Division six

  • Beresfield Memorial v Toronto Diggers Mudcrabs (Feighan Oval 2)

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