Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Numurkah overcomes wicket problems and Kyabram

After a delayed start due to the pitch being wet, Numurkah has beaten Kyabram to book a place in Haisman Shield finals.

DAMEN FRANCIS March 3, 2014 4:10am

It was all hands on deck in an effort to dry the pitch at Numurkah after it became wet following rain on Friday night.

It took a nervous wait and a tense 52-over chase, but Numurkah booked its Haisman Shield finals place at Kyabram’s expense on Saturday.

The three-wicket defeat was the luckless Redbacks’ first since November, but it was enough to push them outside the top six on the final day of the home-and-away season.

It could have been so different, but for the committed effort of a band of volunteers, who salvaged a playable wicket at Numurkah Showgrounds in the hours before play.

‘‘We had 15mm of rain on Friday night and it got onto one section of the pitch,’’ Blues skipper Mark Brown said.

‘‘The boys did a good job. There was two inches of water over half the pitch and they got driers out and big heaters and we got out there by 3pm.

‘‘There were half-a-dozen blokes that put in a lot of work to give us a shot, so they deserve a lot of credit.’’

Even when play did get under way, Numurkah had work to do.

Chasing 161 for victory, the Blues resumed at 0-34 in tricky conditions.

The wicket was tacky underfoot and a bit two-paced, while the moisture meant there was some sideways movement for the Kyabram seamers.

Openers Brown and Tyson Woods took the score to 65 without loss, before the cracks began to show.

Woods (27), Brown (32) and Jahlan Lau (7) were dismissed in quick succession and Liam Gledhill could only watch on as Will Arnel (7), Jay Silva (0), Tim Arnel (0) and Tim Braybon (4) followed a short time later.

Eventually Andrew Cline joined Gledhill and the pair took Numurkah from 7-108 past the score to 7-177 when play was called.

‘‘At 7-108 I thought we had a battle on our hands, but ‘Flipper’ (Gledhill) and ‘Moppy’ Cline batted beautifully,’’ Brown said.

Gledhill finished unbeaten on 59 and Cline made 28 not out.

Tom Roberts was the best of the Kyabram bowlers, taking 3-23 and Paul Parsons finished with 2-20.

It was a heartbreaking end for the Redbacks, who proved plenty of doubters wrong in their second Cricket Shepparton season.

However, Numurkah’s journey continues at Kyabram’s expense.

‘‘At the start of the season most people would have put us right up there and I always thought if we could get there we could be competitive,’’ Brown said.

‘‘Getting there was the hard part, but now we have I feel we’re a better chance than last year.’’

Numurkah has a date with minor premier Mooroopna next weekend.

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