REIGNING division one premier Warrnambool Gold will meet reigning division two premier West Wimmera in Warrnambool Under 17 Country Week’s top grade grand final today in a David versus Goliath battle.
A strong batting display helped West Wimmera to a 25-run win against Hamilton yesterday, while Warrnambool Gold recovered from a slow start to record a 74-run win against Portland in its preliminary final.
West Wimmera made a commanding 3-241.
Opening pair Heath Preston and Mitch Dahlenburg put on a 181-run stand to get West Wimmera’s innings off to a perfect start.
Preston made a century and Dahlenburg 72.
West Wimmera team manager David Jensz said the pair were two of the oldest and most experienced players in a young squad.
“It was good running between the wickets and they put pressure on the fielders all the time,” he said.
Jensz said West Wimmera had exceeded its expectations.
“We have four 14-year-olds and five 15-year-olds so we’re a pretty young squad and the kids have been marvellous,” he said.
“We’re a very small association, we only boast five senior teams.
“We know how good a side Warrnambool Gold are. It will be like climbing a bit of a mountain for us.
“We’ll enjoy the challenge. It’s something we’re going to relish.”
Warrnambool Gold coach John Houston said his side found itself in trouble before its tail wagged.
“We played lazy shots and were maybe a bit lethargic being a Thursday,” he said.
“We had a good warm-up so I thought it would be out of their system.
“We were 8-60 odd. Connor Richardson and Ben Rantall batted well and got us to 90 and Ben and Tom Smith got us to 127.”
Tom Smith (4-19), Connor Richardson (2-8) and Matt Hoy (2-4) were Warrnambool Gold’s most effective bowlers.
Houston said Warrnambool Gold would have to play at its best to make it back-to-back titles.
“You never know what could happen but it’s good for us to play and give ourselves another chance in the finals,” he said.
“It’s good reward for the boys.”
In other division one games yesterday — to determine final competition rankings — South West defeated Wimmera-Mallee by 132 runs and Warrnambool Blue snared a six-wicket win against Horsham.
In division two, Grassmere and Warrnambool will meet in the grand final today.
Grassmere notched a seven-wicket win against Casterton yesterday, while Warrnambool recorded a 61-run win against South West.