Tasman 7/143 def Southern Eyre South 10/142
PERFECT weather greeted both sides as the Port Lincoln Cricket Association finals kicked off with a blockbuster match at Centenary Oval on Saturday.
Southern Eyre South skipper Hamish Rowsell won the toss and chose to bat on one of the hardest wicket seen at Centenary Oval for a number of seasons.
The powerhouse opening duo of Ben Smith and Jacob Watson opened the batting and immediately put the pressure on Tasman’s opening bowlers Sam Taylor and James Fuss racing to 28 in the fifth over when Taylor struck removing the dangerous Watson caught at second slip by Matt Dyer.
Liam O'Dea came to the crease and Nathan Bryant's first ball had him caught at Gully by Reece Francis for three.
When Roger Puckridge was adjudged out leg before wicket to the bowling of Andrew Frick, the Southerners were quickly 3/43.
Smith was still at the crease and a big wicket for the Tasman side to get.
He had been joined by skipper Rowsell and the two set up a mini rebuild.
A strong partnership of 60 was ended when the shuffling Tyson Dodd caught the outside edge of Smith’s bat.
Dodd struck eight balls later to claim the wicket of Derek Barr and then two overs later the wicket of Craig Neilsen caught in the gully by Jack Bunder.
When the returning Taylor cleaned bowled Rowsell for 34, Southern Eyre South had lost 4/14 and were 7/117 and needing some desperate runs.
The tail end were threatening to wag but the Tasman side managed to restrict the damage eventually bowling Southern Eyre South out for 142.
Best with the bat were Smith, 50, Rowsell, 34, and with the ball Dodd 3/25 off of 10 while Bryant and Taylor also both took two wickets.
The Tasman side got off to a terrible start when they lost their first wicket without a run off the bat when Dodd was bowled by Ayden Smith for a duck.
Trent George followed in the sixth over, again bowled by Smith and the score was 2/13 and the Southern Eyre South side had their tail up.
Skipper Dyer and Frick were now at the crease and needed to form a partnership to get their side back into the match.
Both batters batted cautiously rotating the strike frequently early before starting to up the run rate as they came to the drinks and went in to the break in a solid position at 2/88.
Ten runs after drinks Frick was the first to fall to the returning Smith caught behind and when Taylor came and went and Dyer followed in the space of seven runs the Tasman side were required to dig deep.
A partnership between Francis and Bunder was going along well until, with 14 runs still to win, Jack Bunder was caught in spectacular fashion by the diving Watson on the boundary.
The catch was as good as you will see in Port Lincoln cricket.
Bryant joined Francis at the crease, who had been batting very smartly waiting for the bad ball and putting it away to the boundary.
When Francis dispatched the first ball of Kane Grocke's fourth over for four there was jubilant scenes for the Red Caps as the Tasman side had won their way through to their first grand final in 11 seasons.
Best with the bat were Dyer, 42, Frick, 41, and with the ball Ayden Smith 4/27 off of 10 overs.
It was a terrific match and contest between both sides that was well umpired over 94 overs.
Tasman head through to the grand final in two weeks and Southern Eyre South will come up against Charlton in next week’s preliminary final at Centenary Oval.
Wayback 10/137 lost to Charlton 2/140
See write-up, page 24.