GUNNEDAH fought back from the brink of seeming defeat to secure a War Veterans Cup final match-up with Tamworth at Gunnedah yesterday.
After dismissing Armidale for 131, the home side found itself in trouble early in the run chase.
It was 3-7 and then an even more precarious 5-38.
But Farran Lamb and late call-up Jamie Mitchell joined forces and steered the side to victory with an unbroken 94-un stand.
Lamb finished with 50 and Mitchell 25 as Gunnedah reached 5-132 with 17 overs to spare.
“Their partnership was excellent,” Gunnedah skipper Ben Middlebrook said.
They batted well together, with Lamb playing the aggressor and Mitchell solid in support.
It was what the doctor ordered after they’d lost 3-3 and then 2-1.
“Their two openers bowled really well and put us under a lot of pressure,” Middlebrook said.
Luke Brown, Karl Triebe and Henry Cupitt were the three main culprits of that.
Brown removed both openers, and Triebe Andy Mack before Cupitt came on and picked up Middlebrook and Matt Brady in quick succession.
Armidale had similar problems.
Unlike the home side, it got off to a reasonable start with openers Dean Moore (24) and Michael Dawson (14) putting on 40 for the first wicket.
Matt Brady got the breakthrough and, with it, sparked a mini collapse, with Armidale losing 3-4.
Skipper Andrew Brownlie and Will Frost briefly steadied things but they never really recovered, with Brownlie (45) the only batsman to really offer any resistance.
It was a repetitive story for them from their last few games – not enough runs and losing wickets in groups.
“We had a decent start. It was just the middle period where we lost wickets in groups,” Brownlie said.
“We couldn’t get any momentum.”
He thought if they’d had been able to score 170-180 things might have been a bit different.
“Especially with Gunnedah in the position it was.
“We just needed that one more wicket we felt,” he said.
“But Farran batted unbelievably well. He played himself in and then hit big.”
He faced only 63 balls for his half-century.
Cupitt finished with 2-8, Brown 2-33 and Triebe 1-26.
Brady earlier led the charge for Gunnedah with the ball with his 3-12.
“His first spell was excellent,” Middlebrook said.
He and Sam Doubleday also both chimed in with two wickets.
“They were 4-100 at one point,” he said.
“Our bowlers fought back really well. To restrict them to 131 was excellent.”
They did still drop a couple of catches but generally bowled a lot better and fielded a lot better than other games.
It’s been a big turnaround for Gunnedah to be in the final.
It was comprehensively beaten in the opening game of the season and only really came into contention before Christmas.