WARRNAMBOOL Gold’s chances of playing in an under 17 country week final were hanging by a thread.
Until some final over heroics from Elijah Dawson and Mitchell Annett saved the day.
With nine wickets down and six overs to go, Warrnambool had its back against the wall chasing Hamilton Gold’s 8-198.
The pair added 42 (Dawson 28, Annett 22) for their last-wicket partnership to steal victory and a spot in the decider in a thrilling finish at Avery’s Paddock on Thursday.
It took until the final ball for the Al Templeton-led Warrnambool and District Cricket Association side to clinch victory.
“We were nine down with six overs to go and we needed 42 runs, so seven an over, and that got blown out and we needed 36 off the last 23,” Templeton said.
“Then there were two fours and an absolute massive six off Elijah Dawson and all the sudden it was 20 off 20.
“The last over we needed seven to win and the last ball we missed it and it ran through to the keeper and he missed the stumps and they got through for a single and we won.”
The last-ditch victory came a day after Gold edged past Warrnambool Blue by just four runs to secure a semi-final spot.
South West Cricket’s road to the final decider was a much smoother affair, as it edged past Colac Gold with four wickets and five overs to spare.
Mortlake’s Lachlan Higginson (44) was they key in his side chasing down Colac Gold’s total of 136. Terang’s Bailey Kavenagh’s 2-9 helped set up the victory in the first innings.
Fellow Cats teammate Oliver Mahncke said he and his teammates were eager to enter their first decider together. The 16-year-old wicket keeper-batsman also said the finals berth showed the South West Cricket Association was heading in the right direction.
“There are plenty of good youth coming through and 80 per cent of our team is bottom age,” he said. “So it goes to show we have a lot of up and coming cricketers.”
Templeton, who also coaches WDCA division one side West Warrnambool, said Warrnambool Gold’s win uncovered a strength in his side heading into the battle on Friday.
“It shows that we have a lot of depth and shows that we are never really out of matches,” he said.
“The boys are starting to understand that no matter what the situation they have answers. South West are a good team and they beat us on Tuesday.”
Templeton said his side was starting to click.
“It gives them a bit of confidence and and they are starting to mix well as a team and that bit of momentum is starting to come our way,” he said.
“From mid-Wednesday on they have really started switching on and kicked into gear.”
Meanwhile, Warrnambool’s Steph Townsend and her Vic Country teammates have progressed through to the Australian Country Cricket Championships final undefeated after eliminating New South Wales Country from the tournament on Thursday.
Townsend starred with bat an ball, making 23 in the first innings and taking 2-13 as Country hung on for a two run victory in a twenty20 in Shepparton.
Victoria will play Queensland Country in Friday’s final.
The men’s Vic Country side are also into a final with Allansford’s Ben Boyd helping drive his side to a one-day final berth.
The Gator finished with figures of 3-28 helped Country, who also features fellow south-west cricketers Ben Threlfall, Nick Butters and Cam Williams, to a 125-run victory over South Australia.
Country finished second overall at the tournament but have a chance to claim some silverware in the one-day final against WA on Friday.