By Colin MacGillivray
IT was a case of third time lucky for Yea Tigers, who trounced Kilmore by nine wickets to claim a breakthrough Seymour and District Cricket Association A Grade premiership on Saturday.
The Tigers, who joined the association’s top-tier competition in the 2014-15 season, came into Saturday’s decider having lost the past two grand finals to Tallarook, and were determined not to make it three on the trot.
It seemed the coin toss was the only thing that went against Yea on a brilliant afternoon at Kilmore Cricket and Recreation Reserve.
The home side elected to bat after captain Josh Buttler won the toss, but struggled to establish any fluency at the crease.
Buttler and Dale Tassone, one of the association’s most dangerous opening tandems, tried in vain to settle into the innings.
After adding just eight runs in the opening few overs, the partnership was abruptly broken by Yea Tigers skipper Marc Steiner, who had Tassone caught behind for six.
Steiner struck again with his next ball to trap Jacob Walton leg before wicket for a golden duck, sending the home side reeling at 2/8.
Kilmore was in damage control, and the priority for Buttler and new partner Matt Rose was to stem the bleeding. They did so, but adding to the run total proved slow and laborious.
Buttler had been at the crease for more than an hour and a half when, shortly before the drinks break, Tiger Will Dalton struck, removing Buttler for 22 and leaving Kilmore tottering at 3/48.
Dalton and speedster Damon Malcolm continued to cause headaches for the Kilmore middle order after drinks.
Dalton claimed the scalp of Kilmore’s Marcus Davern (9) after an excellent catch by Andrew Butterworth, and Malcolm followed up minutes later to bowl Ben Dawson for a duck.
Next to fall was Rose, who batted doggedly for his 22 runs over nearly two hours.
When Malcolm sent one of Rose’s bails skyward, Kilmore was 6/64 and the crowd could sense a Yea victory in the offing.
Rose was quickly joined on the sidelines by Hayden Smith (0) and Jayme Lowe (1) while Robert Hanson did his best to prop the team up with 11 from 35 balls.
Damon Malcolm eventually bowled Hanson, and his brother Corey followed up quickly with the scalp of Corey Dennehy (4) to have the home side all out for 79 in the 38th over.
Steiner finished with 3/9 from six overs, and Damon Malcolm’s intimidating pace saw him claim 3/14 from eight.
Dalton (2/13) and Corey Malcolm (2/6 from 4.4 overs) were also among the wickets, while Aidan McSpeerin bowled nine excellent overs for a return of 0/22.
Having waited three years for an elusive premiership, the Tigers were in no mood to wait any longer as they chased a target of 80.
Opener Darcy Pell’s dismissal for nine off the bowling of Brett Buttler proved to be little more than a blip on the radar as young batsman Nathan Beattie put on a show of powerful leg-side striking.
Beattie blasted eight fours in a quick-fire 43, with veteran Cam Armstrong also showing excellent touch at the other end.
The pair embraced after Beattie hit the winning runs, and were quickly joined in the middle by their team mates.
Steiner, who was named man of the match, said he was ‘chuffed’ with the performance of his side.
“If someone said to me at the start of the year that we were going to win the flag with the people that we lost, I would’ve said they were dreaming,” he said.
“To their credit, the younger lads have come through with the goods and put in the hard work.
“We just bowled as a team, did what we normally do and it paid off. With the bat the boys backed themselves and chased it pretty quickly.”
Buttler said Kilmore remained capable of challenging for a premiership next season.
“Two years ago we weren’t playing finals. Last year we got to a semi-final and were beaten pretty easily. To beat that side in the semi-final and make a grand final is progress,” he said.
“Each year we’re getting steadily better and hopefully we go one better again next year.”