TIED GAME: Iluka scrape through to grand final
LCCA CRICKET: Iluka has booked its first Maclean Bowling Club first grade grand final in more than a decade, but it wasn't until after the side almost gave captain Brendan James a heart attack.
Nothing could split Iluka and Harwood after 80 overs of the Lower Clarence First Grade preliminary final, with Iluka earning passage through to the decider as the higher ranked side in the contest.
"We didn't even realise a tie got us through, we were thinking win, I guess no one ever plays for a tie,” James said.
"I still can't believe it, it feels like I have been in a daydream all weekend.”
Chasing Iluka's total of 8-163, Harwood were down to their last wicket and needed two runs to win off the final over of the match.
Enter, Dave Cowen. The wily Iluka veteran has been in plenty of pressure situations over his career, but none come close to bowling the final over at the weekend.
A missed run out off the second ball of the over had the scores tied up, and James thought his side's fate was already signed, sealed and delivered.
"We just thought holy crap, we're done here,” he said. "Then Dave clean bowled the bloke off the very next ball.
"It was just unbelievable. We managed to scrape through to the grand final by the skin of our teeth.”
James said his side appreciated the extra match ahead of a grand final showdown with Wanderers.
"It was good to get that extra batting innings under our belt, most of the guys got a start and were looking quite good,” he said.
It was the spin that brought the Iluka side undone with Hayden Ensbey (3 for 27 off 8) and Matt Young (3 for 27 off 8) leading the way with the ball.
While he thought 163 was a defendable total, James was quickly getting nervous as in-form Harwood opener Josh Cormick (52) brought up a half-century before the drinks break.
Harwood veteran Matt Young also added 43 to the total, with the rest of the line-up struggling to crack double figures.
"We got that big wicket of Josh just after coming back from drinks,” James said. "That was a real momentum swing for us.
"When their last bloke came to the wicket they still needed 26, we thought we were home and hosed. I never expected it to come down to the wire like it did.
"But we're going to need to do more than tie next week. It is win or nothing in the grand final.”