An unbeaten half century from Tom Groth and a blazing cameo from Chris Skilton laid the foundation as South Tamworth knocked over defending champions Old Boys in their grand final replay at No.1 Oval on Saturday.
After coming in with Souths in some strife at 4-54, Groth finished unconquered on 52 to lift his side to a very competitive 7-204. They then dismissed the premiers for 164 for a 40 run win.
It was a really good winTom O'Neill
Sent in, 200 was looking a somewhat lofty ambition at 4-60 at the half-way point of their innings.
“At drinks I thought 150 would have been good but Skilts and Grothy after drinks batted really well,” stand in skipper Tom O’Neill said.
After losing Blake Fitzgerald (26) not long after the resumption, Groth and Skilton proceeded to smack 80 in around eight overs.
Skilton did much of the damage, plundering four sixes and three fours in his 24-ball 45. O’Neill (25no) then joined then Groth for a final 36-run four over flurry.
Josh Crowe also made 20, while Fitzgerald, playing his first game in Souths colours for several seasons, did a lot of the hard work at the top to get the shine off the ball, O’Neill said.
Mitch Swain (3-49) made early inroads for Old Boys, Pat Bryant also chiming in with 2-38 while sons Matt and Dan each picked up a wicket. With a lot of inexperience in the attack and “give them the ball early and get their nerves out of the way”, Middlebrook elected to bowl first.
He thought the bowlers generally did a good job.
“We’ve got a few inexperienced guys coming into first grade. It probably showed in the middle overs,” he said.
Skilton had a big part to play in that.
“Skilton’s innings at the end probably separated the two teams and took it away from us,” Middlebrook said.
Once he gets going he is hard to stop.
At 1-43 and with Simon Norvill (29) still at the crease, Old Boys were in a pretty good position but just lost consistent wickets – their application letting them down, particularly the senior players’.
“We played some terrible shots to get out. Adam (Lole) was the only one that showed some application,” Middlebrook said.
He played a relatively lone hand with 44. Dan Bryant also chipped in with 23 and while he and Lole were out there, Middlebrook felt there was a ray of hope but then Conrad George and Josh Crowe spun Souths back into a commanding position.
“We didn’t start real well with the new ball.
“But after that our first change bowlers got us back on track,” O’Neill said.
Stepping up as the frontline spinner, Crowe particularly bowled well claiming 3-32. George meanwhile finished with 2-47 while Fitzgerald nabbed 2-13 and helped turn the momentum Souths way after drinks with a couple of quick – and big – wickets.