United blast into LCCA grand final
By TONY WHITE
TWO towering sixes by Michael Essex off the final two balls of United's innings set the scene for an emphatic win over Wanderers in the Lower Clarence Cricket Association first grade final on Saturday at Iluka Oval.
Essex, batting at number six, belted 61 runs off about 40 balls and provided enormous impetus for United's commanding first innings total of 5-211 in 45 overs.
Thanks to a superb United bowling performance, Wanderers crashed to be all out for 107.
United, the defending premiers, now go through to Saturday's grand final against minor premiers Yamba, at Yamba Oval.
Fielding a full strength team for one of the few times this season, everything finally clicked for United in the final.
"We dominated from the start of the game," jubilant United captain Nick Clark said.
"All the boys played particularly well. I've always known with a full team we're hard to beat and we showed that.
"Everybody did their job well."
Openers Dean Moran (26) and Tom Martin (50) got the team off to a flying start, making 75 runs off the first 20 overs. It was just the platform the team needed.
After Moran's dismissal, Luke Many joined Martin at the crease and the pair continued to dominate. Many went on to score a fine 51.
Nick Clark (3) and the dangerous Brett Jones (0) fell cheaply, but Essex and Aaron Jones put on a valuable partnership to remain the not out batsmen.
Jones 12 not out and Essex top scored with 61.
Wanderers captain Darryl Simmons finished with 3-11, including four maidens, from nine overs.
Wanderers' run chase faltered throughout the day, lacking a strong partnership, with wickets tumbling in quick succession. Simmons elected to bat down the order and after a solid start fell lbw to Freebody for 12.
Andrew McLachlan top scored with 21 and tail-ender Zac Newton tallied 14.
Wanderers were dismissed in the 37th over.
Left arm seamer Matt Anderson took 3-39 and Essex, in a fine all-round performance, snared 3-11. Freebody, with good line and length, finished with 2-31.