By TONY WHITE
AFTER a season of endeavour and achievement, a stumble at the final hurdle proved extremely costly for Harwood Hilton on Saturday.
The Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League cricket competition leaders tumbled to third on the premiership ladder after an agonising first innings loss to GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst at Ellem Oval.
And with the loss went the chance to grab the club's first minor premiership.
"Very, very disappointing," Harwood captain Tim McMahon said.
"We'll just have to regroup for the semis now."
The four-run loss and results from other games over the weekend ended Harwood's hopes of a minor premiership and major semi-final appearance.
Harwood will now play Brothers Services Grafton next weekend. Minor premier South Services will take on Westlawn Grafton Hotel for a direct passage to the grand final.
The Ellem Oval encounter began in controversy.
After covers were removed a sodden pitch was revealed, which upset players from both sides.
"We put the covers on at 3pm on Friday. The wicket was damp," Tucabia's Chris Adamson said.
"We had to play Friday night (night grand final) and couldn't do it at any other time.
"Friday night's wicket was half doughy, spongy too. Really, we (players) shouldn't have to put up with that."
After Tucabia posted a first innings total of 155, Harwood resumed on Saturday at 4-37.
Tucabia began positively when they had McMahon dismissed for 12 and opener Ed Munday for 20. Both were victims of Jason Disson.
"I thought we were on top early and heading for a win but Matt Young and Luke Richardson steadied the ship for Harwood with a good partnership," Adamson said.
"They (Young and Richardson) got Harwood back into a winning position but to our credit we hung in there and it paid off when Damien (Rouse) got Richardson (20)."
Tucabia slumped to 9-138 but Young (50no) continued before last bat Dave Cowan fell for 6 and Harwood was all out for 151.
"It was an intense match. At the end we were ecstatic but you could sense the disappointment in Harwood," Adamson added.