SAWTELL has claimed victory in a thrilling cricket grand final against Diggers Ex-Services.
Chasing 133 for victory nerves were frayed in the Sawtell camp when Diggers Ex-Services captain Joe Willman had teenaged batsman Tyh Murphy caught and bowled to leave Sawtell still needing 36 runs with only two wickets in hand.
A fighting partnership from Ben Andrews and veteran Matt Bailey steered Sawtell to victory though and left the club celebrating it's sixth first grade title in the space of eight years.
Andrews was the hero of the day walking to the crease after Sawtell lost two early wickets after the resumption to be 5-48. He rode his luck including surviving two missed stumping chances to make an unbeaten 52.
The fact that Bailey was there at the end though was the icing on the cake for Sawtell. Bailey has been a stalwart of the club for two decades and this victory was first grade title number nine for him in his last game.
Sawtell captain Trent Mitchell said he wouldn't have had the finish be any other way.
"For 'Bails' to be there at the end is a classic Sawtell story," Mitchell said.
"It was great to have him there and it's a great to win for a lot of those blokes."
Mitchell always believed that having experienced players at the crease at the end of the match would be a help but he admitted that at 8-97 he was a very nervous man.
"I was a bit nervous, the boys were all sitting on the same seats over on the bench but I had to keep getting up and moving, I couldn't sit still," he admitted.
"When there was 30 runs to go and only two wickets in hand it was tough."
Diggers Ex-Services stoutly defended its low score and found itself so close to victory for the second time in three years.
Willman said he was thrilled with the effort but a little disappointed that the team wasn't able to post a bigger total.
"If we could've put 20 or 30 more on the board and taken our chances it could've been different," Willman said.
While doffing his cap to Sawtell's fighting qualities that saw the opposition claim victory, the vanquished skipper was thrilled with the way his team played over the course of the season, particularly the contingent of teenagers within the squad.
"Look what we've got, kids that are 14 or 15 years-old so this team is going to be together for another four or five years," he said.
"There's good things ahead for us."
GRAND FINAL SCORECARD
Played at Coffs Coast Sport and leisure Park No1
DIGGERS EX-SERVICES 1st INNINGS - 132
SAWTELL 1st INNINGS
|C NEAL||c S Meakins||b T Herbert||9|
|T MITCHELL||c S Meakins||b L Corlis||1|
|A GARLAND||c A Byrne||b G Kesby||15|
|D ANGUS-CROUCH||c J Bellamy||b T Herbert||8|
|M OATES||c S Meakins||b T Herbert||13|
|R WELSH||c A Byrne||b G Kesby||16|
|B ANDREWS||not out||52|
|N ADA||lbw||b J Willman||5|
|T MURPHY||c&b J Willman||1|
|M BAILEY||not out||10|
|Extras:||(1nb, 1w, 1b, 1lb)||4|
|Total:||(63.4 overs)||8 wkts for||134|
Fall: 8 (Mitchell), 11 (Neal), 29 (Angus-Crouch), 44 (Garland), 48 (Oates), 65 (Welsh), 89 (Ada), 97 (Murphy).
Bowling: T Herbert 24.4-10-51-3, L Corlis 11-2-16-1, J Willman 14-2-30-2, G Kesby 14-3-35-2.