AFTER six months of local cricket contests, it all comes down to this weekend’s decider between two arch-rivals.
Tathra will host Eden in the Far South Coast Cricket Association A grade grand final, which will be held tomorrow and Sunday at Lawrence Park.
It is a case of the winner takes all as the two standout teams in the 2012/13 competition face off.
The Maroons should be favourites after winning the minor premiership, but captain Pete Bennett expects a fierce challenge from Eden.
“I think five of the last six [two-day] grand finals have been between Tathra and Eden, so we have built up a good rivalry,” he said.
“We’ve had some close encounters.”
The Maroons are the reigning A grade two-day champions after defeating Merimbula in last season’s decider.
All-rounder Adam Blacka took man-of-the-match with figures of 6/14 – including three wickets in four balls – as Tathra proved far too strong (BDN, 27/3/12).
While Tathra will turn to that performance for inspiration, Eden will have taken confidence from its 2010/11 premiership win.
On that occasion, Eden’s star all-rounder Matthew Bell took five wickets to lead his side to victory against Tathra.
Bennett said Bell was always a dangerous opponent.
“Matt Bell, if he plays, is the key for them,” he said.
“He makes a huge difference and lifts the other bowlers around him – Eden has the best bowling attack in the comp.”
Last weekend, it was Blacka who led the way again as Tathra secured a semi-final win over Merimbula.
Blacka picked up 6/60 off 25 overs as the Maroons restricted their opponents to a competitive total of 210 on Saturday.
“Adam led the way again, but I thought we bowled pretty well and stuck with it,” Bennett said.
“Our bowling was pretty good, but it was just one of those days.”
Day two saw Tathra’s top and middle order make starts, with the side recording victory in the 76th over for the loss of seven wickets.
Blacka was again the star, top-scoring on 68, while Geordie Gibbs (31), Ross Jones (30) and Ben O’Reilly (24) spent valuable time at the crease.
Bennett said it was an impressive effort with the bat.
“We were pretty happy with the win – we batted in tough conditions on Sunday so the boys did pretty well,” he said.
“Our batting was really good in partnerships – we didn’t [quickly] lose consecutive wickets and everyone chipped in.”
According to Bennett, Merimbula putting up a strong contest may have been the ideal preparation for the grand final.
“It’s good to go in after a tough game,” he said.
“It should be a big battle and this will have put us in good stead.”
At the time of going to press, Tathra was yet to finalise its team for the decider.
Bennett expects to field a similar line-up to the semi-final, but said a couple of players were pushing for selection, including Matt O’Reilly.
“We have some decisions to make,” he said.
“One of them is Matt O’Reilly, who was unavailable last week, but has played with us all year.
“We have some selection headaches.”
The two-day A grade grand final will be held at Lawrence Park, starting at 1pm tomorrow.
“The last few times we’ve played Eden in the grand final, it’s been at Eden, so being at home could be a key factor,” Bennett said.
“We hope to get a bit of a crowd down there to support us and hopefully make it tough for them.”