FOUR IN A ROW
BY ADRIAN MILLER
WESTLAWN Grafton Hotel are the Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League premiers for the fourth season in a row.
Westlawn beat young challengers South Services in an enthralling encounter that went right down to the wire.
In the end, the result came down to experience, with Westlawn outlasting South to win by 21 runs.
The weekend started ominously for both teams when play was delayed on Saturday because of overnight rain, and with Westlawn batting first on a wet wicket, South were confident of an upset.
Westlawn's innings was held together by Sean Ulrick, who stepped up to the pressure of the final with a score of 94 not out.
Tim Grosser had the next highest score with 24.
Ulrick's innings did come at a price though, the classy opener was unable to field in South's innings.
Captain Tony Blanch said Ulrick's brilliant knock was the cornerstone of the innings and without it the reigning premiers would have looked vulnerable.
South's bowlers performed well, restricting the scoring rate and having Westlawn under pressure at 3 for 47 and again at 8 for 151, but the tail wagged to take them to a total of 201.
In a late change to the side Jake Conway-James replaced Rob McCredie and made the third highest score of the innings ? 15, batting at number 10.
Matt Kroehnert was South'S star bowler, taking 5 for 52 off 23.5 overs.
South went in to bat on a dry, hard wicket and were in the box seat early in the piece when openers Brett Woods, 24, and Tom Kroehnert, 23, combined for a 45 run partnership, before they both fell in quick succesion to leave South at 2/50.
However the key wicket of Matt Kroehnert was the one Westlawn craved and they got him for 32 with the last ball before lunch.
South were still well placed, going in to lunch at 3 for 106.
After the break the Westlawn bowlers increased the pressure, and after the run out of Steve Laybutt for 24, they snared two more quick wickets to leave the challengers at 6 for 117.
Westlawn could taste victory and went for the kill, but South's tailenders stood their ground.
Jason Thompson, 22, and Matt Peterson, 18, batted cooly but when they both fell and the score was 8 for 166, it was always going to be difficult.
Brad Robertson gave South some hope, until he was brilliantly stumped by Jason Rainbow off Nathan Blanch to leave them needing 22 with one wicket in hand. In the end the lack of a big score proved costly, with Jason Chevalley taking 3 for 44 off 20 overs, while Andrew Firth took 3 for 61 off of 25.
Blanch said Westlawn's fighting spirit was the deciding factor and to win four premierships in a row was special.
"We fought through pretty bad conditions yesterday. They came out here today with a dry, hard track, so to knock them over was pretty good," he said.
He said the previous grand final wins held the team in good stead.
"Our experience in the team and the camaraderie means we're never out of any game," he said.
"When we heard second grade got up over the river we had something to spur us on. It gave us the extra incentive to do it again."