ST PATRICK’S will play in its fourth successive Cricket Albury-Wodonga Provincial grand final after edging out East Albury by two wickets in a drama-charged final at Alexandra Park yesterday.
Only a week after losing a thriller to Lavington, the Patties made the most of their second chance with some lower order heroics getting them over the line.
The wheels threatened to fall off for Heath Naughton’s charges at 7-133 chasing 9-190 before Grant Gardiner (32no), Dean Nicholson (28) and Cameron Furze (13no) came to the rescue.
“It got really tight and thankfully the boys were up to it,” Naughton said.
“We lost a few quick wickets when East came back at us, but I think our batting is one of our real strengths and it got us over the line.
“The boys were fantastic late.
“It was always going to be a tough preliminary final and it’s good to be through and still be in the hunt.”
After winning the toss and bowling, St Patrick’s coach Mark Butters produced another devastating spell to immediately put East Albury on the back foot.
He knocked over Hayden Coulson, Leigh James, Will McIntosh, Joel Shepherd and James McNeil to have the Crows reeling at 5-43 and seemingly out of premiership contention.
But the home team has been made of stern stuff all season and some stubborn resistance from Dom Wild, Dylan Weeding and Andrew Wilkes and late hitting from Kris Milosta kept it in the contest.
Milosta hit nine boundaries in the best knock of his career in making 68no and gave East Albury a glimmer of hope entering day 2.
St Patrick’s was well ahead at 3-100 before veteran Grant Lewis turned back the clock with three wickets to turn the match on its head.
He removed Luke Restall (49), Kane Arendarcikas (0) and James Ellis (10) in quick succession, but the visitors found a way to hold on and earn a shot at Wodonga in this weekend’s grand final at Les Cheesley Oval.
“We are through so we are a chance,” Naughton said.
“The side has had to play some tough cricket to make it and hopefully that holds us in good stead.
“Everyone is contributing and that’s what you want going into a big game.”