West Gambier made a statement ahead of the 2020-21 Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association finals by tearing through North Sportsman’s at Malseed Park on Saturday. Another Roos’ rampage with the ball left the Tigers toothless for the second time this season.
In the last game before Christmas, West skittled North for just 42 and the reigning premier’s nightmare returned in the final round of the season. Resuming their pursuit of 126 at 4/24, the Tigers had a mountain to climb and never got going on the final day.
New-ball pair Josh Cornolo and Sam Willis remained potent and were rewarded with the wickets of Michael Johnston and Jordan Hollitt respectively to get day two off to the perfect start. Mitch Lewis also struggled to get going and became Willis’ fourth victim.
North captain Nick McInerney was determined to keep his side’s hopes alive and scraped together 13 runs after more than two hours at the crease. However, McInerney tickled a Lachie Brown ball to the keeper and once Declan Kenny fell to Niall Easterbrook, the Tigers were at the point of no return at 9/59.
Last-wicket pair Isaac Mulraney and Tim Young defied the odds with the former striking two successive boundaries to push the total to 72. But the pair’s gutsy effort only delayed the inevitable before Easterbrook dismissed Mulraney for 8 and to end North’s misery.
Willis was the chief destroyer with 4/32, while Cornolo also had some fun taking three poles. With almost 60 overs of play remaining, West padded up to build some form in the second innings. The opening was almost a mirror image of the first innings with Kale Wrightson and Jack Geddes struggling to rotate the strike before falling cheaply.
The early scare gave Connor Prior and Jake Blackwell plenty of time to gain confidence at the crease. Prior grinded his way to 44 off 122 balls, while Blackwell brought up his second half century of the season. The 95-run union was broken when Young dismissed Prior, but Blackwell remained unbeaten on 61 despite the late wicket of Bowen Hosking.
The Roos posted 4/122 from 56 overs, while the game ended on a light note with Jake Schutz bowling for the first time in two years. However, the laughs at the close of play could not hide the significance of West’s 54-run win as the rivals will meet again at Frew Park in a do-or-die semi-final this weekend.
Roos’ captain Richard Crute said a disciplined bowling effort in unfavourable conditions sparked the collapse. “I thought the conditions were quite favourable to the batsmen,” he said. “We were lucky to get some loose balls caught by fielders, but that was down to tight and economical bowling.” With two big wins over the reigning premier this summer, Crute said his team believes it can go all the way.
“There is confidence and everyone is up and about, but we know North has been a quality side for a number of years,” he said. “It does not matter what happened this season – there is added pressure now, so we need to put our best foot forward like it is another game of cricket.”