By TONY WHITE
SOUTH Services marched into the Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League cricket premiership decider with a 29-run win over Harwood Hilton in the final at Ellem Oval on the weekend.
South will now tackle premiers Westlawn Grafton Hotel in a replay of last year's grand final.
After batting first, South amassed a competitive 228. Harwood were all out for 199 after a valiant 59-run last wicket stand by captain Tim McMahon and Dave Cowan.
"You beauty but we're not getting carried away," South's young captain Brett Woods said.
"Our big assignment comes next weekend. It will be business as usual throughout this week.
"This is pretty weird. The same preliminary final and the same grand final as last year.
"But a different result wouldn't go astray," Woods added of last year's grand final loss to Westlawn.
"There hasn't been much between us and Westlawn all season. The grand final will come down to who wants it most."
The result was a bitter disappointment for Harwood, the men from down river, who led the premiership for most of the season.
"Yeah, it's disappointing but we were beaten by a better side on the day," Harwood captain Tim McMahon conceded. "Congratulations to South.
"We should have taken our catches and bowled better. We dropped at least four chances.
"When we batted I was still confident of getting the total but we hit a bad spell after lunch, which was costly.
"Their middle order valued their wickets more than our blokes."
McMahon and No.11 batsman Dave Cowan nearly contrived a Lazarus-like ending to the game, combining for a 59-run partnership for the last wicket.
They took Harwood within 30 runs of a most unlikely victory.
The pair came together with Harwood at 9-140 and South keen to wrap up the match.
"I was getting a little worried, my fingernails were getting a bit short," Woods joked.
"Full credit to them (McMahon and Cowan). They made us earn it (the win)."
Woods top scored for South with a typical hard hitting 59 after opening.
He and Matt Kroehnert (42) put on a vital 97-run partnership after Tom Kroehnert fell to Cowan for a duck.
Mark Laybutt provided some much needed stability to the middle order, batting sensibly for 46. Wood and even McMahon praised his innings.
He and 'singing' fast bowler Jason Thompson (29) added a 51run partnership to steer South past the 200 mark.
Peter Hickey and Matt Young, who fielded extremely well, were the pick of Harwood's bowlers taking 3-47 and 3-42 respectively.
Harwood began its innings in typical methodical fashion and looked well in the game at 3-70, but just after lunch they lost three quick wickets to slip to 6-106.
All batsman got a start but until McMahon's tail-end heroics, no batsman was able to go on with the job.
Andrew Whiteside got 21 and Craig Moran, who fell to a brilliant catch by Zac Page, 26.
McMahon played a great captain's knock, ending the day 43no. Cowan too played his part, smashing one glorious six but importantly holding up his end to allow McMahon to do the bulk of the scoring.
Cowan was eventually out, bowled Matt Peterson.
For South, Thompson regained his old fire, bowling a great line and length, stump to stump.
He was rewarded with 5-39. Matt Kroehnert took 3-47.
It was a tremendous team effort by the young South side.