LOCOMOTIVE Hotel’s win over Joblink Plus in Friday’s McDonald’s Tamworth Premier League final was another reminder that it doesn’t matter what happens during the rest of the season.
Joblink beat Loco in both of their meetings during the preliminary rounds and was slight favourite to take out the title at No.1 Oval.
But the tables turned in a big way in the decider as Loco kept Joblink to only 8-119 and belted the runs inside 12 overs.
Leo Steyn produced his best game of the tournament, with two wickets in the first dig and 57 from 28 balls with the bat.
“We were pretty switched on from the start tonight,” Loco captain Michael Rixon said.
“We bowled and fielded really well and then Hamish (Batley) and Leo came out and hit it very well.
“There was a bit in the wicket early so losing the toss wasn’t such a bad thing.
“They were batting in the twilight and it was hard to see in the field so it would have been hard to see batting.
“Jarrard (Abra) and Leo and Ben Semmler bowled well with the new ball and had them four or five down.”
That opening onslought with the ball had Joblink reeling at 4-30, with the top four all back in the pavilion.
Richie O’Halloran gave Joblink some hope with 33 at number five and Layne Berry made 24 not out at the end.
“Unfortunately we left our worst performance of the season for the final,” Joblink captain Adam Jones said.
“It’s pretty disappointing.
“We didn’t bat well at all.
“We lost constant wickets and didn’t build any partnerships.
“Richie OHalloran batted well and kept us in the game.
“It was something to bowl at and if we’d competed well on the day we could have defended it.
“But we didn’t bowl well.”
Abra took 2-22, Steyn 2-15 and Semmler 1-22 and there were three run outs.
Leading run-scorer Dean Hoy was the danger man for Loco, closely followed by Rixon, but Joblink managed to remove those two without suffering too much damage.
Unfortunately for Jones’s side, that brought Steyn and Batley together and the teenage duo kept the run-rate above 10 an over.
Steyn was only on seven when he smashed his bat and was dropped when the ball sprayed high in the air.
With a new bat, he went on to belt four sixes and five fours in his 57.
Batley only made 21 from 12 balls but it included one of the highlights of the night.
His second six was one of the biggest of the tournament and sailed clear over the No.1 Oval pavilion.
“Even though Dean and I went early, Leo kept the scoring rate up so they were behind the eight ball,” Rixon said.
“They’re both pretty talented kids.
“Hamish has come into form in the last couple of weeks and he hits it as big as anyone I’ve seen.
“Leo probably missed out in the earlier games if anything.”
Jade Thompson took two wickets for Joblink but went for 10 an over – and he was one of the more economical bowlers.
Loco hit the winning runs in the 11th over via a boundary to Jake Everett to take the game by six wickets.
“We got Dean and Mick out early but Leo batted well,” Jones said.
“Leo is a quality player as well and Hamish came out and hit a few as well.
“Full credit to them, they outplayed us.”
It was the first TPL victory for franchise owner Matt Zell after five years in the competition.
His Imperial Hotel team of previous years had made a final but never won the tournament.
Under its new name he has had immediate success.
“Zelly puts a lot of money and time into cricket with the (Tamworth) rep team, North and West,” Rixon said.
“It’s good for him to get something back with this win.”
It was also a first for Rixon who skippered a team for the first time and is the youngest captain of a winning TPL team.
“It was a bit of fun,” he said.
“It was good to play with guys like Chaise Crough and Luke Paterson and Dickie Bullock and Jake Everett.
“They were our best bowlers and Jake finished it off well at the end.
“That’ll be a good experience for him.”
Halpin’s Plumbing finished third after an easy seven wicket win over McDonald’s in the earlier game.