Souths bowl their way to preliminary final win over Wests

Important knock: Mitch Smith had to play rescuer twice with the bat for South Tamworth in their preliminary final win over West Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

Important knock: Mitch Smith had to play rescuer twice with the bat for South Tamworth in their preliminary final win over West Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

They've done the job all season for them and South Tamworth's bowlers saved the day again for them on the weekend, and with it their premiership hopes. 

Souths grand finals chances were left resting heavily on their shoulders when after carrying a 45 run lead into the second innings Souths were bundled out for 76.

It left Wests needing 115 to advance to the decider against Old Boys. They fell a heart-breaking three runs short in the end after Souths staged a remarkable fightback, claiming five wickets in four overs as Wests crumpled to be all out for 112.

Wicket-taker: Harrison Kelly claimed 2-28 in the first innings and 1-18 in the second as West Tamworth ran through South Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin 180317PHE047

Wicket-taker: Harrison Kelly claimed 2-28 in the first innings and 1-18 in the second as West Tamworth ran through South Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin 180317PHE047

It was the final twist to a preliminary final that Souths skipper Tom Groth couldn't honestly say who the better side was in. 

“It was a great game of cricket set up by some bad batting from both teams,” he said.

He was at a loss as to what is going on with their batting. They were 6-48 in their first innings but managed to scratch their way to 96 before having Wests 4-39 at stumps.

With the batsmen they had out, Groth felt they possibly held a slight advantage, but by mid-Sunday morning the game was theirs to lose after they tore through Wests for 58. Tom O’Neill led the charge with 4-25 and was unplayable at times as he finished with 10 maidens from his 19 overs. 

After setting themselves up in a winning position only to fail again with the bat, Groth said they were “pretty disappointed” after their second dig and probably carried that with them into the field.

“That first half an hour we weren’t quite there and didn’t bowl the ball in the right areas,” he said as Wests cruised to 0-41.

Backing his bowlers to come through with the goods, Groth’s optimism never wavered, although at 5-102 the situation was looking fairly dire.

“We made a couple of bowling changes,” he said.

“As a last roll of the dice we brought Gus (McNeill) and Troy (Osborne) back on.”

“We just had a bit of a plan. 

“We wanted to just to keep the ball up. Bowl that full stump line, bowl a few dot balls and let them make the mistake.

“I think it worked.”