Russells Creek chases back-to-back under 17 premierships

RUSSELLS Creek is chasing consecutive Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) under 17 premierships when it meets Nestles on Sunday.

Creek advanced to the grand final with a 29-run win over arch-rival Dennington on Tuesday night, while Nestles ended Port Fairy’s season with a seven-wicket triumph.

Creek coach Matt Ansell said his players were looking to extend a golden run.

His side is made up of teenagers who have progressed through the age groups with great success after joining forces as top-age under 13 players. They won the 2009-10 under 13 grand final, the under 15 flag in 2011-12 and last season claimed the under 17 title with a largely bottom-age side.

Ansell said his team was far from favourite.

“We haven’t lost too many games over the journey but we lost two this season, one to Dennington and the other to Nestles,” he said.

Ansell said his side had a point to prove after being dismissed for just 28 in its previous meeting with Dennington before the semi-final. His batsmen responded last week with 175. “To get 175 was a big mental effort. We really set ourselves for that,” Ansell said.

The key to the semi-final win was early wickets and tight lines. Callum Humphrys opened the bowling with his medium-pace out-swingers instead of being a change bowler and grabbed 4-23.

Nestles coach Geoff Williams said his side’s grand final berth capped a transformation for the club’s junior program.

“Three seasons ago we were combined with Brierly in the under 15s and under 17s and this season we had two under 15 teams and one made the grand final and our under 17s are obviously in the grand final,” he said.

“We’ve gone from having maybe 10 kids to about 30 kids in the three grades. We’ve built it up from there and it’s great for the club.”

Williams said his side took confidence from its previous win over Russells Creek this season.

His players endured a tense semi-final win over the Pirates. 

Chasing 133 for victory, Williams said his opening batsmen Max Hannah and Dean Finlayson made a slow but safe beginning. 

“Port Fairy bowled really well and our lads stuck to the task. They were waiting for the right ball,” Williams said.

Sunday’s grand final starts at 10am at Reid Oval.

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