Gale-force innings leads Gracemere to grand final victory
CRICKET: A resolute innings of 44 not out from top-order batsman Byron Gale guided Gracemere to a stunning victory in the grand final of the Frenchville Sports Club Cap Challenge.
The Bulls proved too good for minor premiers Frenchville, who started Sunday's decider as favourites after going through the regular season undefeated.
Gracemere, as the higher graded team, advanced to the final after Saturday's semi against The Glen was called off because of rain.
Set 137 for victory on Sunday, they reached the total eight wickets down in the 38th over to win the title.
Gracemere's Mark O'Keeffe said it was a cracking game between two teams that had long enjoyed a spirited rivalry.
The victors won the toss and elected to bowl first in the 40-over contest.
Frenchville toiled hard on a tricky wicket to finish at 9-136, captain Joe McGahan and Brent Hartley sharing in a valuable middle-order partnership of 62.
O'Keeffe said Gracemere spinner Justin Peacock bowled the best he had all season to finish with 4-39.
In the run chase, Todd Harmsworth scored a quick-fire 32, while Gale proved the mainstay, coming in at No.3 and carrying his bat through the innings.
O'Keeffe said every batsman contributed, with Ben Milne even chipping in with a valuable 14 at the end of the innings.
Andrew Johnson (3-28) and Logan Whitfield (2-25) were Frenchville's best bowlers.
O'Keeffe said Gale's match-winning innings was complemented by a very disciplined display from Gracemere's bowling attack.
"Our plan was to keep the ball away from the bat, staying off the straight line and bowling out wide,” he said.
"That worked a treat for us and to be able to execute that plan so well in a grand final was really great.
"A key to the victory was being able to restrict them to what was a par score on that wicket. If they'd managed 20 or 30 more it could have been a different story.”
Attention now returns to the Rockhampton A-grade premiership, with Frenchville and Gracemere in equal first with two rounds left to play.