Clarence juniors complete fairytale finish in final
JUNIOR CRICKET: Clarence River Under 16s representative coach Reece Grieve said it was all worth it when the side broke a seven-year drought in the North Coast Inter-District Under-16 competition on Sunday.
A journey spanning five years for this playing group who have been together since Under-12s finally came to fruition in a perfect day in the final against Nambucca Bellingen at Ellem Oval.
"They have worked so hard for that result," Grieve said. "They missed out last year narrowly against Coffs and I think that really put the mongrel in them for this final and it showed.
"They all stood up with the bat and then our bowlers just ripped them apart."
Led from the top by opener Ethan Cahill (45), Clarence River batted to a formidable 6 for 259 off their 50 overs before Dylan Lucas (4 for 13 off 6) and Matt Dalton (2 for 25 off 5) spearheaded a superb bowling display as Nambucca Bellingen crumbled to be all out for 77 in just 18.2 overs.
Cahill shared a 46-run opening stand with Ben Shipman (10) before Eli Fahey (32) helped take the score to 115. Cahill was eventually dismissed with the score at 162, effectively putting a lean streak behind him in the final.
"Ethan really stood up and proved he was a top order batsman," Grieve said. "He has not had any luck and was really down on himself but he managed to clear his mind and batted with patience."
But his dismissal provided little respite for Nambucca, simply bringing the in-form Jacob Ellis to the crease, who made good use of the platform set to belt 61 not out and further prop up Clarence River's total.
Grieve was glowing with pride for the whole team, who he has watched grow up since first playing Under 10s cricket.
"Just to see the way they have grown into the young men that they are is something special for me," he said.
"The way they have come together and put all the niggly stuff behind them, they have really combined well.
"It is not a privilege to play for your town, it is an honour and these boys proved that."
After Ellis' cameo with the bat lifted the score past the 250 mark the coach was left to sit back in awe as his opening bowling duo had Nambucca's top order at sixes and sevens, claiming three scalps in the first two overs.
Lucas (4 for 13 off 6) had the ball moving laterally, while Dalton continued his pin-point line and length to pull both openers apart without leaking a run.
"In all my years of cricket I have never seen top order destruction quite like that," Grieve said. "Our game plan was to go out and attack and we set the field for that but we never expected it to go so well. It was the perfect start."
The young bowlers stifled Nambucca with Hayden Ensbey (2 for 19 off 4) also chiming in before Nick Lawson finished the innings off with wickets with each of his first two balls.
Grieve - who wrapped up his junior coaching career with the win - said it was a "fairytale finish" for everyone.
NORTH COAST CRICKET COUNCIL
At Ellem Oval, Sunday 11th December
Toss: Clarence River
Clarence River Innings
EB Cahill 45
B Shipman 10
E Fahey 32
JR Grieve 16
J Ellis 61no
HJ Ensbey 17
N Lawson 0
AP Cahill 0no
SIX wickets fro 259
FoW: 1-48 (B Shipman) 2-115 (E Fahey) 3-162 (EB Cahill) 4-179 (JR Grieve) 5-232 (HJ Ensbey) 6-250 (N Lawson)
Bowling: Not available.
Nambucca Bellingen Innings
Batting card not available.
Bowling: DJ Lucas 6-1-13-4, M Dalton 5-1-25-2, HJ Ensbey 4-0-19-2, J Ellis 3-0-19-0, N Lawson 0.2-0-0-2.