CRICKET Albury-Wodonga’s bid to defend its Konica-Minolta Cup Twenty20 title derailed at the last hurdle when it suffered a 42-run defeat from Western District University of Canberra in the final at Manuka Oval last night.
Coach Trent Ball’s men showed strong form to hold off Queanbeyan in the semi-final yesterday morning, but they were no match for a fired up Wests squad, which clubbed 6-187 off their 20 overs in the final after winning the toss.
It was raining before the match and the weather threatened throughout, but the home team was unaffected as Beau McClintock (68) and Ethan Bartlett (46) took the match away from CAW.
Ashan Ranaweera stood firm in the face of the onslaught to take 2-26 off four overs, while Mat Armstrong (1-16), Gurjit Sandhu (1-24) and Tom Wells (1-30) also had their moments.
CAW’s hopes of hunting down the big target were dealt a blow when openers Ball and Will Brown were dismissed cheaply as the team slipped to 2-25 off four and 4-77 off 11.
A solid partnership between Country Championships All-Australian selection James McNeil (53) and Tom Wells (25) ensured the defending champions would put a respectable score on the board.
But all but one of their batsmen were caught on the boundary, with Zach Simmonds (21) the only other batsmen to trouble the bowlers as CAW was dismissed for 145 in the final over as Wests gained revenge for a comprehensive semi-final defeat last year.
Bartlett was the destroyer for Wests, taking 4-32 off four overs, while Angus Polhill (2-29) and Adelaide Strikers Big Bash squad speedster Ben Oakley (1-26) also proved hard to get away.
“We were behind the rate from the start and they just got too many runs,” team manager Grant Ball said.
“But it was good to play under the new lights at Manuka Oval, it’s a fantastic ground.
“Making the final and playing at Manuka was the key goal right from the start.
“We’re obviously disappointed to lose, but not with the overall result.
“It’s two finals in a row for the association, which is a good achievement.”
Earlier, Ball (25) and Brown (21) got CAW off to a rollicking start in its semi-final at Ginnindera’s Kippax Reserve, belting 45 off the first four overs.
CAW’s run rate slipped through the middle overs as former Canberra Comets off-spinner Mark Solway (3-24) and Dean Southwell (2-30) instigated a collapse which included the dismissals of Tom Wells (0) and skipper James McNeil (1).
But middle order batsmen Armstrong (32) and Sam Drury (36) swung the momentum back in favour of the visitors, lifting CAW to a challenging score of 6-157 off its 20 overs.
Queanbeyan flew out of the blocks after Mark Butters claimed an early wicket, as Vele Dukoski launched into the bowling.
Butters copped the brunt of the attack, belted for 39 off three overs as the big hitting No.3 clubbed five sixes on his way to 53, despite accurate bowling from Sandhu (2-18 off three).
McNeil took 2-26, while spinner Zach Simmonds turned in an excellent spell of 1-15 off four to leave the hosts needing 28 runs off the last three overs.
Armstrong allowed just seven runs in the 18th over and Paul Conolly only five in the 19th, leaving Sandhu with 16 runs to play with.
The East Albury quick knocked over Southwell with the first ball of the over to put the result beyond doubt, conceding only six runs as Queanbeyan finished on 7-147.
Western District booked its spot in the final with a last over victory against Tuggeranong in the other semi-final.