Sydney Uni 431: D Mortimer 120, E Cowan 82, N Larkin 48
Sydney 127: T Ley 4-30, B Joy 2-19, D Malone 2-23, L Neil-Smith 2-28
The Students arrived at number 1 oval as the higher ranked of the two sides in the semi final clash against Sydney. A draw would be enough, but the team was intent on playing positive cricket and ensuring Sydney were always under pressure.
Larkin won the toss and elected to bat on another superb surface. A swift start from Trevor-Jones and Larkin came to an end when the former pulled one to square leg, dismissed for 10. Mortimer arrived at the crease and played his shots from his first ball, combining with his captain to drive the home side forward in the opening session. Larkin fell for 48, hooking to the man in the deep, leaving the game evenly poised at 2/101.
Cowan strolled to the crease in his typically (of late) belligerent fashion and Mortimer followed his lead. The two hooked, cut and pulled anything remotely short. The Sydney bowlers were never able to build pressure as the Students pressed on through the middle session. Mortimer went past a century, his finest innings in his two seasons for the club. Cowan was eventually caught in the deep for a classy 82. Mortimer followed shortly after, departing for a stunning 120. Sydney smelt an opportunity at 4/289.
Robertson and Kerr steadied the ship, leading the home side into stumps at 4/348, as 16 overs were lost late in the day due to rain.
As expected, Sydney came out hard on the morning of day 2. The set batsmen both fell early, Kerr for an aggressive 43 and Robertson for a measured 32. Cummins and Ley came and went quickly, and suddenly 8/375 saw Sydney with momentum and belief. For a second season running, the unlikely hero was Ben Joy. Joining young Lawrence Neil-Smith at the crease, the lanky quicks went about both taking time out of the game and seizing valuable runs when the opportunity presented. The partnership of 42 took the wind out of the visitors sails. Joy made a season high of 20 and Neil-Smith remained unbeaten on 28. Eventually the hosts were all out for a mammoth 431, leaving Sydney 68 overs to chase an unlikely victory.
Despite a bright start from Sydney's openers, they were never able to get ahead of the steep run rate. The introduction of Joy and Neil-Smith, this time as bowling partners, lead to early scalps. 1/51 became 2/67, and by the time the third wicket fell, there was a procession at hand. Joy's six over spell yielded 2/19. Another memorable semi final effort for the ever giving clubman. Neil-Smith continues to impress, grabbing 2/28 from his six overs.
Malone looked back to his best, showing good control and variation as he challenged the batsmen to hit him into the breeze. He grabbed 2/23 from his eight over spell. The ever present Ley was hungry for the ball, and his final spell swiftly led to the end of the game. Clever and liberal use of the short ball proved too hard to resist for the visiting middle and lower order. ably assisted by some nice outfield catching by Neil-Smith. By 4pm the students were belting out a strong rendition of the club song, Sydney skittled for 127. Parramatta await.
Sydney Uni 141: AJ Grant 31, E Arnott 31, J Lawson 26
Parramatta 135: S Wood 6-42, A Peek 2-11, AJ Grant 2-28
Well, well, well. What a result, a hard-fought victory and a Grand Final at home this weekend. But more on that later, first to the detail of the fixture.
The Saturday morning arrived, and the Units returned to fortress Petersham to take on the minor premiers, who were wobbling in the finals after a dominant year. A difference of opinion regarding eligibility meant that 3 new faces were requisitioned Friday afternoon to fill in the sizeable gaps left by Messrs Hill, Shaw and Tate. Peek, Bedford and Galvin the inclusions and all were fit and firing, and the Units were confident after accounting for the Eels in the earlier season fixture.
Nash was a spirited 6 on 6 encounter which ended up being an absolute bloodbath, young 6 – Old nude and Wood essentially a cardboard cut-out between the sticks. The less said the better.
Astonishingly enough your scribe won the toss and elected to bat on a good surface that looked to offer a bit of assistance in certain areas. From the start the Parramatta bowlers Pike and Sullivan bowled with good pace and excellent control to continually ask question of the batters. A few early wickets and at 3/13 we were in some difficulty. AJ and Furboni met in the middle and put together a solid partnership whilst dealing with some quality bowling, and I suspect the mid-pitch chats would have been split roughly 50/50 on how to combat the bowling vs how their rigs were shaping up (Furby better but AJ not at all to be discouraged).
AJ and Ed both reached 31 but we struggled to build any real momentum and Leggie saved our blushes somewhat with a well made 26 late on. All out 141 in 62 overs which felt under par but still well and truly defendable. Credit to the Parra bowlers in particular Pikey who bowled pretty much unchanged from one end and acquired 4/57 off his 27 overs.
This meant that notionally we had 35 overs to bowl in order to make some inroads. Big Wood and Peek took the new ball with immediate results, Peek collecting the wicket of the dangerous Taylor Charles without scoring. A couple of quick wickets to Wood left us on top with Parra 3/21, however Harry King and the keeper Liam O’Farrell showed no sign of nerves as they got themselves settled in and cashed in on any loose deliveries. A late storm meant that play was called to a halt 7 overs early, and this was a blessed relief as Parra were in the driver’s seat and sitting pretty at 3/80 overnight.
Day 2 dawned and whilst your scribe was feeling optimistic, as a betting man you’d have to realise Sportsbet would have had our odds in the 2-horse race at 10s to secure a 1st innings lead. They of course didn’t factor in Wood, and the big bustler who were preparing to deliver the spells of their careers.
Nash was quality and old reversed the result of the day before to leave it 1-all over the fixture (aggregate disregarded as we would have lost by that method). Some very high-quality pieces of play from Galvin across 2 days securing him the 3 points again and probably wrapped up the Best Nash Player award for the year across the club (3rd grade, as the best Nash team, obviously our best player is the best across the club).
Both Wood and AJ prepared to do the business, and no consideration of a bowling change was given by the 2 fired up units (I think I told Peeky to “be ready” and to warm up 13 times across 30 overs before he finally got the ball). Big Wood was the first to strike, capturing O’Farrell caught and bowled. The big boerewors was next, bowling King and both batsmen departed for well-made 41s.
All of a sudden it was game on and we were into the middle order, and at 5/92 it was anyone’s game. Wood and Grant then captured another one each and the live odds swung right around, as a comfortable 3/80 overnight became 7/98.
However, Parramatta had no intentions of going quietly and the experienced duo of Verma and Coleman dug their heels in and started to compile a strong partnership. On the stroke of lunch, your scribe returned to Wood, and the big man got the breakthrough, grabbing Michelle with Anand chipping a catch to short cover. Uni then went to their sandwiches with 2 wickets to get, and 10 runs to play with.
After the interval it was Wood who acquired a friend, trapping Sullivan in front. 9/133 and a sense of déjà vu for those involved in the corresponding fixture last year. A few tense overs and a couple of singles and in the end, it was Peek who got the result, nicking of the skipper. Pandemonium ensued, and I can’t recall a more satisfying win or a more jubilant celebration in a very long time.
Unsurprisingly Parra then tried their luck to force a 2nd innings result, but the Units held firm (despite some members of the team trying to injure members of the public/the poor bloke at bat pad). Litchfield was the star, cruelly denied a chance to raise the bat for his 50/150, and his 43*(149) was a quality display.
The day however belonged to Wood, and what a performance from the man. 25 overs, 9 maidens and 6/42 in an outstanding display of fast bowling, and certainly his best performance (off the stage) during his time at Uni (let’s face it, he plays bass so it’s probably his best performance all around). Twice in the last 5 rounds he has won the game for us, and it is a rich reward for all of the training that he has put in (I think he may even be in double figures for the year).
Now the GF awaits, and it is a return to the scene of our most recent triumph from 2 years ago at Uni 1. The tigers will be the opposition and we are exactly where we want to be, with one more strong effort to raise the trophy and the glory that awaits (mostly 3hrs in the tubs, although the premiership would be nice too).