Bulldogs earn preliminary final berth

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

North County avoided missing the finals for a second consecutive season after scoring enough percentage points in their round 18 Albany Cricket Association A-grade loss to Railways to elevate them into third spot.

The Bulldogs sat fourth in the standings going into the final home-and-away game of the season, locked on points with third-placed Collingwood Park, but 2.09 percentage points below their rivals, who had the bye on Saturday.

A win over the Tigers would assure the Bulldogs a finals berth or by sheer volume of runs scored and wickets taken, they would leapfrog Park on percentage.

It turned out to be the latter after the Tiers won the toss and batted, and for a long period, the Bulldogs were no certainties to progress.

Opener Jeremy Wood departed in the third over of the innings before Brendan Crudeli and skipper Zane Marwick combined to guide the Tigers towards a big total.

Railways' Brendan Crudeli on his way to a half century.
Camera IconRailways' Brendan Crudeli on his way to a half century. Credit: Albany Advertiser

The pair put on more than 100 runs, and after 30 overs, the Bulldogs had taken just the one wicket leaving them with a big task to ensure their percentage was greater than Park’s.

The Bulldogs, however, broke the 111-run stand when spinner Gary McGlade had Brendan Crudeli caught behind on 50 and to their delight, it was able to bring a run of wickets.

Zane Marwick churned his way past 50 for the fifth time in his prolific season with the bat before getting caught and bowled by McGlade on 71.

Railways' Zane Marwick cuts on his way to a half century.
Camera IconRailways' Zane Marwick cuts on his way to a half century. Credit: Albany Advertiser

A brisk 64 from Matt Walters, along with Matt Wolfe’s innings of 24, helped the Tigers surpass 200, but the longer the innings went, the closer the Bulldogs got to their target.

Debutant Aiden Williss took four valuable wickets to go with McGlade’s crucial double strike.

The Tigers finished at 8-242, but in the process, the Bulldogs closed the gap in percentage to Park and needed just 50 runs to surpass the 2.09 percentage mark.

Michael Ferreira and Craig Tonkin’s first wicket stand lasted 18 runs before Tonkin fell for one, but contributions from Matthew Ferreira (9), Neil Ferreira (17) and McGlade (18 not out) guided their side to that cherished third position.

A fighting 62 from Michael Ferreira ensured the Bulldogs passed 100 before Zane Marwick ran through their lower order, taking 6-21 to cap a terrific man-of-the-match performance.

The Bulldogs were all out for 136, but the result mattered little as the 3.16 percentage points gained from the 106-run loss lifted them to 40.98, claiming the last remaining finals berth. Weinert said their performance with the ball proved the difference in the end.

Railways' Brendan Crudeli gets a single to reach his 50.
Camera IconRailways' Brendan Crudeli gets a single to reach his 50. Credit: Albany Advertiser

“We were just focused on the runs and wickets,” he said.

“Getting those wickets bowling first was crucial and left us with about 48 runs to get with the bat.

“We weren’t trying to run down the total after that; we did all we had to do.

“Manypeaks had a shock loss to Denmark, which I don’t think will do their confidence any good.”

The result sets up a spicy preliminary final clash with Manypeaks this Saturday, with a grand final berth up for grabs.

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