Wednesday saw first and second placed teams meet. The Bush Choox and Madness have been the benchmark teams for the whole season. They have shared the top spot on the ladder since round 2, with the Bush Choox spending 10 weeks at number one and Madness three weeks. This season they have met twice before - in Game 19, Madness set a target of 8/175 the Choox replied with 7/160.
In Game 46, Madness chalked up 8/185 batting first, while the Choox replied with 10/164. They do have high scoring games...
On Wednesday the Mad Men went into bat first and Sebby took out Callum on the second ball of the innings. In the third over Reece ripped through the top order taking two wickets in consecutive balls.
With the power play score at 3/30 the Madness outfit were struggling. The Mad Men added 39 runs in the second quarter and lost two more wickets. Foxy's struggle to 20 from 21 balls helped but was also testament to how well the Choox were doing in the field.
With 5/69 on the board at half time, the third term was just as bad with only 29 runs added and 2 more wickets falling. Morrow was the pick of the batsmen with 30 not out @ 120 strike rate but it was not enough to help set a finals-like target.
In the final term Reece Owen destroyed the lower order with consecutive wickets again to end up with 4 wickets for 5 runs in two overs. The Mad Men ended their 20 overs with 9/120, fifty one runs under their season average. All the bowlers, led by Owens 4/5, put up good figures: CJ 2/3, Muzza 1/7, and Robbo, Chooky, Cody all 1/9.
The Bush Choox needed only 6.01 runs per over to go straight into their fifth grand final in a row, and as well all know already have lost them all. With 2/43 from the power play Muzza was out one run before retirement with 24 from 11 balls.
Chooky and Cody dominated the next period of play with a well constructed partnership with both men retiring with 25 runs from 22 balls. At half time they needed just 38 from 60 balls with 8 wickets in hand. Jacko came in and made a rapid 18 from 12 balls to seal the deal for the boys from Fowl House Corner to play in the 2019 Grand Final. The Choox totally outplayed the Madness outfit, who are lucky they have a second chance in the Preliminary Final.
Friday's clash was between the Finbats and the Willow Warriors. These two teams have also met twice this season with the Warriors winning both games. Game 24 saw the scores at 4/160 to 7/185 and Game 52 - 6/167 to 8/155 to the Warriors.
The Finbats batted first and the game started with a flurry of two's being made before Garsty fielded a ball from his own bowling to turn around and run out non striker Gareth before he could get back in his crease, it's 1/9... then 2 balls later gave Gibbon an unplayable ball that hit him in the shoulder.
The power play was slow with 1/29 on the board. Gibbo went on to make 25 from 19 balls and Blacky top scored with 31 from 23 balls. At half time the total looked good with 1/70 and a host of run makers to follow. The Warriors took some stick in the third term but took 3 wickets, two in a over from Whal.
At ¾ time the Finbats had 4/115 then the Warriors went to work taking 5 for just 20 runs in the final 30 balls. Forey, Hazza and Jamie all taking two wickets for a dozen runs. Hep 1/6 in two overs. Garsty 2 catches and a run out. The Warriors went to the crease needing 6.76 runs per over and were steady with no wickets in the power play and a run rate of 7.20 to be 0/36. Garsty retired with 26 from 16 balls after copping a nasty ball in the nether regions. Zac contributed 27 runs @ 142 s/r and the half time score was 2/77. Another 40 runs were made in the third term with Forey making 27 runs in 22 balls, (mainly backward of square). The ¾ time total of 3/117 left the Warriors needing 19 runs in 30 balls. They lost three wickets but posted a victory with a boundary off the blade of Cam in the 19th over.
For the Finbats, Travis only bowled one over but made the most of it with 2/5 and Rohan also took two wickets in his two overs for 10 runs. The Warriors now return on Tuesday to take on the Mad Men for the right to defend their premiership from last season. The Finbats have bowed out in fourth position for the second year in a row since their glory days.