Dominant Warriors take on fairytale Bulldogs
Saturday, 9th March, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
The Warriors have the chance to break their grand final hoodoo but will be up against a confident North side riding a wave of momentum into today’s B Grade grand final.
The Warriors were the benchmark side throughout the season and finished miles ahead atop the ladder on 69 points, 28 clear of the second-placed West.
They went undefeated through the regular season including three wins over North. Those wins were by 64 runs in round one, by 49 runs in round six and by four wickets in round 11.
Five Warrior batsmen scored more than 140 runs this season with Ash Bates’ total of 211 at an average of 70.33 and a high score of 93 leading the way. Their main contributors with the ball this season were Tom Kennedy, who claimed 21 wickets at the sublime average of 5.43, Chris West (13 wickets at 9.54) and all-rounder Shane Dalby.
Dalby faces the unusual prospect of playing against his former club in a B Grade grand final a season after winning an A Grade premiership for that club. He picked up 11 wickets and scored 174 runs across six matches for the Warriors this season.
North have made both the A Grade and B Grade deciders although the teams have done it in remarkably different ways.
While North’s A Grade side dropped only the one game for the year and finished as minor premiers, the B Grade side left their run until the last possible moment.
The Bulldogs were sitting last going into round 15, requiring a double bonus point win to leapfrog Central into the finals. Eventually that boiled down to needing to chase down 121 in 15 overs or fewer which they did off the final ball of the 15th over with just two wickets in hand.
That incredible win qualified North for the semi-final and again they were up against it after conceding 161 against West. Once more though they found a way to get the job done, hauling in the target with two wickets and four balls to spare.
While the likes of veterans Shayne Staker and Ben Victory and the experienced Anthony Tidball and Brendon Martin form the backbone of the North side, those two wins were typified by team-wide contributions.
Austin Wilson, Luke Hall, Ashley Richards and Joel Sheppard have all been important in recent weeks and it’ll take a full-team effort again today.
North now face their stiffest test against a very strong Warriors side but they won’t be lacking in belief after their last two matches as well as the fact that the Warriors have struggled to get the job done in grand finals.
The Warriors’ most recent grand final appearance came in 2016/17 where they were the heavy favourites against South and were cruising at 2-65 in pursuit of South’s 99 before an all-mighty collapse saw them lose by six runs, their fifth consecutive grand final loss.
The Warriors will be desperate not to let their dominance go to waste again while a win for North would complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in form in a very long time.
Warriors (squad) - A. Bates, L. Smith, S. Kemp, R. Kennedy, T. Kennedy, D. Dwyer, J. Carr, E. Underwood, L. Scoble, C. West, R. Pavlich, S. Dalby
North - B. Victory (c), D. Millsteed, L. Larkins, B. Martin, S. Staker, A. Richards, L. Hall, A. Tidball, J. Schorn, Q. Beavan, A. Wilson, S. Rogers (12th)
WHAT: B Grade Grand Final
WHEN: Today, 12:30pm
WHERE: Zinc Oval