By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
IF ANYONE doubted how far Sawtell was in front of the rest of the competition, then all doubts have surely been blown away after a massive 178-run victory over Nana Glen to claim back-to-back first grade cricket premiership titles.
The main point that was rammed home in the grand final rout on the weekend is that it's the depth of talent at Sawtell that is the main ingredient of their success.
"We've got an Australian indoor cricket player batting at number 11, so we can bat all the way down," an ecstatic Sawtell captain Todd Gill said.
"When I went in I didn't really think of it as a pressure situation, I didn't even think of it."
That's a tremendous amount of confidence to have because when Gill entered the arena on Saturday, Sawtell were teetering on the brink at 4-78.
Normal batsman would feel some pressure and at least be careful at the beginning of a dig to steady the ship but Gill isn't a normal batsman.
Totally oblivious to the situation, the captain reached his half century off only 23 balls as he blasted his team towards victory.
A full picture of the effect that Gill had on the game is highlighted by a scorebook that shows when the master blaster was at the crease, Sawtell scored 98 runs. Gill made 84 of them.
When he was dismissed, the reigning champs were still not out of the woods as the score was 176 for the loss of eight wickets.
This is when the depth came to the fore.
David Kennedy (66) and Ben Andrews (37) combined for a more than valuable partnership 75 which had punters getting in line with the bookmakers anticipating a collect.
"For 90 per cent of the year the top order has just been firing and the lower order never got a bat," the captain explained.
"It was great to see that the other boys could stand up in a grand final and do what the top order couldn't."
A total of 280 in a grand final is always a tough ask but the way Nana Glen's batting line-up has performed in 2005-06, it was a mammoth assignment.
Their captain Andrew Mainey was left to rue another batting collapse which finally signalled their death knell.
"It's the same old story, we struggled with the bat again," he said.
"That was a pretty good batting wicket and 280, we thought you're going to need every bit of 280 on this but we just didn't even come close to it.
"They bowled well again but we bowled well and fielded well, there's not a hell of a lot more we can do except learn to how to hit that little bit of red leather."
Mainey refused to take anything away from Sawtell's bowlers who did the damage again.
Lawson Jarman collected a bag of five wickets and received tremendous support from new ball partner Ben Andrews (3-34) in an effort that Gill said was reflective of every performance given in the two years that he has been at the helm of the club.
Everyone puts in at Sawtell.
"It's an all-round side, no-one is a stand out and everyone does their job and puts in 100 per cent," Gill said.
"I know that Matt Rose said that the Nana Glen boys are close but I think we're probably closer than any team in the whole comp."
Nothing like a premiership and the night of celebration that ensues to bring them even closer.