Bulls through as Lions falter in big run chase
Mt Barker held their nerve late on Saturday afternoon to complete a thrilling first semifinal win over Royals, wresting back the momentum in the final few overs to snatch a preliminary final berth.
A finals epic developed at Turf South between Royals and the Bulls, the latter being sent in to bat after Lions captain Jack Hastie won the toss and elected to field.
The Lions charged towards the unlikeliest of victories late in the day, chasing a difficult target of 190 in 35 overs in a rain-reduced second innings.
The Bulls’ innings ended early due to rain as Nathan Crosby made 66 to help his side reach 6-195, which then became 218 under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
However, a delay in getting the second innings started due to a wet pitch and outfield left the Lions needing more than five runs an over to progress.
The competition’s leading runscorer Mitch Green was dismissed by young seamer Noah Middleton for 11 but his departure didn’t slow down the rollicking Digby Nuthall, who proved the aggressor as he helped the Lions motor along at nearly seven runs an over.
Nuthall hit four fours and one six, scoring 50 from 45 balls before he was stumped off the bowling of Nathan Crosby to leave the Lions 3-95.
A 65-run partnership between Matt Wolfe and Dylan Holt further ignited the Lions’ hopes as they surpassed 150.
Bulls skipper Jeremy Wood then claimed the vital double breakthrough his side were desperately chasing, bowling Wolfe for 50 off 48 balls and then rattling Holt’s stumps on 26.
The Lions were 5-161 needing less than 30 runs in the final 54 deliveries but the game changed dramatically as the Bulls snared every chance offered.
The Bulls took 5-9 at the most crucial stage. Alex Fergie took three of the last four wickets to help deliver his side a nailbiting 13-run win.
The Lions’ tail folded up badly, all out for 176 to end a chase that early on promised so much.
Fergie finished with 3-17 and teammates Middleton (2-29) and Crosby (2-29) were the other multiple wicket-takers in the win.
Lions captain Jack Hastie said although it was disappointing to bow out in that fashion, his side’s attacking chase was something to be proud of. “I thought our boys’ effort with the bat was pretty remarkable given we needed 190 off 35 overs,” he said.
“In the end, the two best, most consistent sides made it through.”
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