The Harwood players celebrate their win in the Premier League grand final.
The Harwood players celebrate their win in the Premier League grand final. Gary Nichols

Harwood too strong for Souths

FOR Harwood Hilton it was a sense of relief, for retiring captain Tim McMahon it was a fairytale ending, and for a battle-weary South Services it was simply a case of one fight too many.

As Tim McMahon walked off Ellem Oval for the last time yesterday there was a wry smile on his face. His side not only defeated Souths in the Premier League decider, it handed them a cricketing lesson.

Batting first, Harwood posted a massive 321 to put the game out of reach. In reply, South Services limped to be all out for just 132, after spending close to a day-and-a-half in the field.

After weathering the early onslaught, Nathan and Mark Ensbey created a monster partnership to grind the South bowlers into the Ellem Oval dirt.

Even gun leggie Fred Holloway struggled to make an impact, as Harwood continued to pile on the runs.

The run feast continued early on day two as the Souths' bowlers took a mauling from unheralded number eight Matt Young. Young (63 not out) pounced on anything short and at the end of the carnage the reigning premier was suddenly well over the 300-mark and on its way to another title

With nothing to lose the Souths' openers counter-punched early in their innings, before their skipper Tom Kroehnert was bowled by Craig Moran.

Moran, who was a surprise choice by McMahon to open the bowling, then removed the prize scalp of Brendan Cleaver, caught down the leg side by McMahon.

Wickets continued to fall at a rapid pace, before Craig Cole and Brett Woods put a stop to the rot

Woods made a defiant 28 before being caught in the gully, while Cole, who was controversially given out lbw, blasted 36, which included a towering six on to the pavilion.

But as the two headed back to the sheds any glimmer of hope Souths had of staging a comeback soon evaporated.

Moran finished with 3-30, while Nathan Essex mopped up the tail with an impressive 4-21.

Although disappointed with the result, Kroehnert was full of praise for his team, which earlier in the season looked at long odds to make the final.

"We got beaten today by the best team in the comp," Kroehnert said after the match.

"Our boys have put in a big effort this season, winning the night competition and making the grand final.

"It was a big improvement from previous years and I couldn't ask for anything more. We have plenty to build on for next year."

Indeed, Souths proved they were the real deal this season and according to McMahon were worthy opponents

"Full credit to South for getting there. They should all hold their heads high," McMahon said.

"We trained for the game and held plenty of team talks, which paid off in the end."

McMahon admitted his team's blueprint for the game centred around tight bowling and how to handle Souths' leggie Fred Holloway.

"We thought if we bowled well we could dismiss them for around 120 and we discussed how to play Freddy," he said.

"Fred is the leading wicket-taker in the competition and our plan was to sit on him and don't leave the crease."

Holloway finished with 1-84, while Matt Peterson bowled his heart out, taking a tidy 4-47, which included 10 maidens.

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