MORTLAKE and Pomborneit will clash in South West Cricket’s division one grand final for the second consecutive season after achieving contrasting victories on Saturday.
Defending premier Mortlake surged into its fourth consecutive grand final and fifth in six seasons with an eight-wicket win over Noorat at Terang while minor premier Pomborneit was carried across the line by inspirational former skipper Steven Castle.
Castle, with an unbeaten 87, was the difference between his side advancing to Saturday’s grand final or being eliminated by an impressive Bookaar.
A half-century from skipper Fraser Lucas (59) and 42 from opening batsman Simon Baker underpinned Bookaar’s 8-194 — a score that looked out of reach when it was 4-86. But Lucas and Tosh Merrett (30) combined for a 60-run stand that gave the underdog momentum.
It then started well, reducing Pomborneit’s feared batting line-up to 3-43 and then 5-72 nearing the half-way mark in the 50-overs-a-side match.
But Castle was sublime. First he steadied the innings and then he took the game away from Bookaar as the Bulls chased down the target of 195 with three wickets in hand and 15 balls to spare.
Skipper David Murphy said his side got a scare.
“I was feeling sick at 6-100, it wasn’t real good,” he said.
“Probably didn’t want that to happen in a semi-final. We just lost a few wickets in the middle and couldn’t halt the wickets. Cas (Castle) held it together. I haven’t seen him bat like that for a while, he was in the groove.”
Pomborneit, defeated by Mortlake in last season’s grand final, will be hoping to repeat its 2008-09 premiership triumph over the Cats when they meet at Camperdown on Saturday.
“I would think Mortlake would start favourite because they are going for three in a row.”
But Mortlake skipper Todd Lamont disagreed.
“They have had more consistent form than us throughout the year,” he said.
“They will probably start favourite.” Lamont said his side set up the game with some tight bowling to dismiss Noorat for 163 with nine overs remaining.
“I never really felt on top in the field,” Lamont said.
“We probably didn’t bowl as well as we have had, it was probably one of our lesser performances this season.
“They were 5-130 and I reckon they had 20 overs to go, I was thinking if we didn’t get Shane Hutchins out they will make 250.”
But after Mark Clissold (26) was dismissed with the score at 137, the Cats pounced, including removing Hutchins for a well-made half-century.
Evergreen Shane Slater (3-19) and Kyle McDonald (5-43) then wrestled the momentum back as Mortlake took 4-17 to close out the innings.
Slater, who has enjoyed a golden year, was promoted to open the batting after regular opener Tyler Schafer suffered a hand injury while wicketkeeping.
Slater and Josh Barr then made a safe but steady start, putting on an opening stand of 63. They both fell for 25 without any addition to the score bringing Ian Mahncke (61 not out) and Clinton Baker (35 not out) who took the game away from Noorat with an unbeaten 104-run stand, sealing the eight-wicket win with more than 12 overs to spare.
“Compared with the last three or four years, we have probably been down (on form) a bit this year,” Lamont said. “But the last month we’ve played our best cricket and I think we have turned a bit of a corner.”