Four-midable victory for a wonderful side
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
SAWTELL claimed a historic fourth consecutive first grade title yesterday when they overcame Northern Districts by 68 runs.
There were emotional scenes immediately after Sawtell claimed the final scalp as players celebrated the victory.
Only 24 hours earlier though, a betting man would've wagered London to a brick that it would be Northern Districts basking in premiership glory as the first session saw Sawtell's renowned batting line-up crumble to have the scoreline reading 8-105.
A century stand between Simon Landrigan (75 not out) and Matt Bailey (47) steadied the ship for the reigning champions and allowed them to post a competitive total of 236.
"Simon Landrigan and Matty Bailey saved the day for us," a relieved Sawtell captain Gus Garland said after the match.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of the boys. We were dead, we were gone and Northern Districts had every right to feel like they were about to close us out and we'd all be in the pub that night."
When you force the opposition to chase down more than 200 runs in a grand final, nine times out of ten you walk away with the premiership.
And so it turned out yesterday.
After a solid opening stand of 50 between Selwyn Manz and Alex Byrne, Northern Districts failed to capitalise on the solid platform laid for them after a collapse made the score 6-92 and Sawtell were getting ready to go into party mode.
"They're a very talented team and they've beaten us all year but we thought that even though they've got a lot of experience, we've been here the last three years in a row," Garland said of the attitude the team took into the final.
"We just thought we'd try to out-enthuse them and play simple straight cricket and if we're really keen in the field we can make something of it."
With the weight of history off his shoulders, Garland can now afford to sit back and reflect on the team winning the crown for the fourth straight time.
"It's pretty good and we'll be going for five don't worry about that," he said after the game.
Rebels' skipper Craig Haworth paid huge respect to Sawtell's fightback as he considered the premiership that got away and conceded that Landrigan's innings was the difference between the two teams.
He also added that the game came down to one of those things that cricket can so often throw up.
"They played and missed all day when they batted and we nicked them," he said.
"That's just cricket."
Sawtell premierships are becoming so common these days that a premiership at Richardson Park is fast becoming a thing that is just cricket.