FULLY CHARGED: Coffs Coast bound for the SCG
CRICKET: In the space of two years, the Coffs Coast Chargers have gone from the "easy beats" to a date with the Sydney Cricket Ground after finishing the weekend undefeated at the Plan B Regional Bash series in Port Macquarie.
A team which featured five players from Harwood's premiership-winning outfit from last season was unstoppable across the weekend, picking up the scalps of Northern Rivers Rock, Macquarie Coast Stingers and Northern Inland Bolters.
Coffs Harbour all-rounder Richie Gallichan captained the Chargers and led the way with the bat alongside all-rounder Ben McMahon, who finished with an average of 30 for the weekend.
Harwood president Tim McMahon managed the side for the weekend, and said he was proud to see success come to the Coffs Coast.
"It was a really great effort, they haven't had results in that carnival before," McMahon said.
"I think we just had the right mix of players that wanted to play for the side.
"We tried to introduce a bit of a different culture this year and it really worked. Guys like Richie and Nathan (Ensbey) spearheaded that change."
The Chargers dominated their opening clash against Northern Inland Bolters, batting out their 20 overs to finish on 7-151 with Alec Baldwin (35) and McMahon (31) top scoring.
Gallichan led the way with the ball taking two wickets for 23 off three overs as the Bolters were reduced to 8-136 off their 20 overs.
In the Chargers' second clash, with Macquarie Coast Stingers, Luke Cox (48) fell two runs shy of a half-century as the side again batted out their 20 overs to post a total of 9-153.
While the Stingers appeared on target to chase down the total, it was Gallichan (3 for 19 off 4) and McMahon (3 for 24 off 3.3) that made the difference as the opposition fell 11 runs short in the 19th over.
But the Chargers saved their best effort with the ball until the final match against perennial Regional Bash finalist Northern Rivers Rock.
After NSW Country representative Caleb Zeibell got his Northern Rivers side off to a flyer with a quick-fire half-century, it was the extra efforts in the field from the Chargers that ensured the Rock never got away, being bowled out for 139.
The Chargers never looked troubled in the chase, with the experience of Ensbey guiding the side to 6-143 after 18.3 overs, and its third-straight victory.
"Northern Rivers are the big wigs of this conference, and they were confident they were going to roll us pretty easily," McMahon said.
"After nine overs they had scored 92 runs, but our boys showed a really good resolve to bowl them all out for only 139.
" Our fellas really tightened the screws, and the fielding effort to back it up was impressive."
McMahon said the Chargers still had a few areas to work on ahead of the Regional Bash finals at the SCG in December.
"Naturally there is a few things we could work on going forward, mainly around working on manufacturing runs in the middle overs," he said.
"Every side faced similar problems, after getting off to a flyer, it was hard to keep the run rate up after fielding restrictions went away at six overs."