A deep batting order proved decisive as Northern Rivers booked a final date at the Victorian Bushrangers Under-14 State Championships with victory against Mallee Murray Bulls yesterday.By Damen Francis
A deep batting order proved decisive as Northern Rivers booked a final date at the Victorian Bushrangers Under-14 State Championships with victory against Mallee Murray Bulls yesterday.
The top-order failed to fire for either side in the semi-final at Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, but a brave fightback from the Rivers’ tail ensured they set a defendable total of 9-139.
The Bulls were not so lucky, and were it not for an excellent unbeaten 52 from number five Kayden Cullinan, they would not have been even close to reaching Rivers’ total.
In the end the Bulls were all out for 116 in the 36th over, sending Rivers into the final.
Rivers coach Tim Kelly said it was a game of highs and lows.
‘‘At 5-40, then 7-50 we were in trouble and I just thought if we could get to 100 it would be a great effort,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘It was a slow outfield and the pitch was batting pretty low and when we got to 140 I thought we were looking pretty good.
‘‘We just bowled good lines and lengths and all week we haven’t relied on two or three players, we bat all the way down to 11 and showed a lot character to win.’’
Karramomus batsman Mitch McGrath anchored the innings with a terrific knock of 46 not out at number eight, which was as gutsy as it was impressive.
McGrath received good support from Mitch Cleeland (13) and James Ryan (18).
‘‘He just didn’t give his wicket away,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘We had a couple of run outs and a couple caught at mid-on, but Mitch just looked after his wicket and rotated the strike.’’
A run out in the first over helped Rivers make a good start with the ball and the team’s spinners, Alistair McCann (2-21) and James Ryan (2-17) were excellent in tying down the Bulls’ batsmen.
They now meet Barwon Rockets in the final on February 10, after the Rockets downed the only team to defeat Rivers so far, North East Knights.
Rivers’ under-16 team was unable to follow suit, losing its semi-final to Inner East Emus at Camberwell yesterday.
On the back of a classy 51 not out from Brayden McGregor, Rivers posted a competitive 7-178.
However, they could not deliver with the ball, conceding 4-181 in 45 overs.
Layton McCann took 2-44 to go with his 30 with the bat to be the other standout for Rivers on the day.
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