DENNINGTON co-coach Dustin Drew was unable to separate excitement from relief after his side produced an upset semi-final win over defending premier Merrivale yesterday at Allansford.
The Dogs successfully defended their score of 7-133 off a rain-reduced 38 overs, dismissing Merrivale for 126 on the last ball of the 37th over.
The win lifted Dennington to its second consecutive grand final appearance, setting up a showdown with West Warrnambool on Saturday.
“It’s probably one of the best wins I’ve been a part of,” Drew said.
“The semi-final last year and this semi. Semi-finals are probably the hardest games you play in.”
Drew said he and his players had ridden an emotional rollercoaster in the 24 hours leading into the victory after the match was changed from a two-day game to one-day conditions after only 19 overs were able to be bowled on Saturday.
“The situation (on Saturday night) where we were 1-90 and you go to bed thinking ‘if we get another 50 or 60 it’s game on’ and then you get up and now it’s a one-day game and you have to start again, the mindset changes.
“All we could do was do what we do best and stick to our game plan. Our game plan holds up.”
Drew said the Dogs had played good cricket across the last month, including becoming the only side to defeat West Warrnambool in the final round game.
“Our best cricket against the best is very capable and going into a grand final we know we are playing well.
“I’m just rapt for our lads. Losing the grand final last year was disappointing. But we are a helluva better side this year. ”
He commended Merrivale for making a game of it when the fixture could easily have been lost to rain.
The Dogs’ innings was underpinned by Daminda Ranaweera, who top scored with 58 before bowlers Terry Beks, Shannon Beks, Mick Rantall and Jack Lee each picked up two scalps.
West Warrnambool advanced to the grand final without bowling a ball in its semi-final against Woodford.
No play was possible in the match at Jetty Flat yesterday or Saturday.
West, which topped the Merri conference, advanced by virtue of its higher finishing position. It is West’s second grand final appearance in three seasons, having won the 2011-12 flag before being eliminated in the semis by Merrivale last season.
Woodford skipper John Houston was philosophical about the way his side’s season finished.
“It’s a disappointing way to finish the year without bowling a ball but the rules are rules,” Houston said.
He said missing the grand final would motivate his club over the off-season.