Match Wrap - 5th Grade SF vs Easts at Waverley Oval

Fifth Grade Semi-Final v Eastern Suburbs at Waverley Oval, 26 March

UTS North Sydney 142 (45.3 overs) def by Eastern Suburbs 8/186 (cc) (AC MacGill 3/39, R Lavery 2/33)

After another focused week of training, coupled with dreary weather, the Bears arrived promptly at Waverley Oval for their Semi Final clash with top seeded Eastern Suburbs Dolphins. The outfield was damp due to overnight rain, but a delayed 11.15am start was on the cards, as both teams and umpires agreed to getting underway as soon as possible without the loss of any overs.

Skipper Alex Perry won the toss and of course elected to bowl first.

It seemed like a good decision when the first ball from Jack Thomas split bat and pad, but somehow missed the stumps. This set the tone for the next 15 overs, with numerous play and misses, along with streaky shots and tight LBW shouts. This period saw Easts continue none down scoring at three an over through to the first drinks break. Jack Thomas finished a spell of 10 straught overs off the top for just 25, and without any physical chances being created, the Bears still felt on top at this stage of the game.

This continued until the score was 98, and Charlie Rose struck with a direct hit run out from mid wicket whilst Easts pushed for dicey second run after hesitation. Momentum swung at this point in the game, with Perry bowling the other opener just shy of his 50, and Henry Charles bowling tightly from the other end.

The fightback continued, with Rob Lavery and Jed Collins bowling tightly through their mid/late over spells, building dot ball pressure and creating chances. Lavery removed the threatening number 4 from Easts, doing him with the extra bounce, and Harry Davis did the rest, quickly whipping off the bails.

Collins bowled well without reward, creating chances and continuing to beat the bat. Alex MacGill came back with a vengeance from the southern end, bowling with wit and persistence. The paid of MacGill (3/29) and Lavery (2/33) continued to squeeze, creating numerous chances. Henry Charles took a well judged catch at mid-on, whilst Jack Thomas added to his catching tally for the season with a dolly at mid-wicket. The pressure continued to mount on Easts, with another run out, thanks to some brilliant work from Olly Jennings at short third man dismissing the Dolphins’ skipper.

The Bears were up and about.

Davis then followed up his stumping with a screamer behind the stumps off MacGill, diving to his right to remove Easts’ hero from the week prior, and Luke Smith took a well-judged catch off Lavery to close out the innings.

It was a great fightback from the Bears, to restrict the Dolphins to a very chaseable 186, after being 0/98 to start.

The stage was set, 187 required from 50 overs to see the Bears through to the 2021/22 Grand Final.

Jennings and veteran Michael Lloyd strode out to the middle, intent on knocking off this total and sending their side through to the big dance. The pair were steady, taking very few risks early and running at three an over through the first 10 overs. Both Lloyd and Jennings played some cracking straight drives, however not getting full value for their shots with the outfield still heavy and slow from the rain.

Lloyd was dismissed for 19 whilst going up the gears, miss hitting one down mid on's throat. Luke Smith then joined Jennings at the crease, and showed his intent straight away, racing to 10 with some thunderous boundaries and shots. However, Smith's stay was short lived, with a one-handed screamer at short mid-wicket dismissing the Bears’ high flyer.

This brought Perry to the crease, who instantly created controversy in the stands, when an Easts player refused to acknowledge an apparent boundary whilst chasing down a ball. This caused tension both on and off the field, and ultimately unstuck the Bears skipper, getting caught on the fence after miss hitting a half tracker. The game was evenly poised with the Bears 3/60.

Charlie Rose, batting with a broken wrist, set about settling the nerves with opener Jennings, however, the steady wickets continued to fall, Jennings caught at point after a defiant 23. Rose took the game on, clipping one off his legs over the fence, however he would ultimately suffer the same fate as his skipper, caught on the fence after a miscued shot. Davis and Collins also showed heart and fight, but were both caught behind off spin.

Thomas and MacGill fell cheaply, and in the evening light, the last two batsmen made their stand, Lavery and Charles. The pair gave the rest of the batsmen a lesson in how to chase, putting on 31 for the last wicket, Charles hitting some nice strokes including a maximum, before being out caught behind to bring the Bears’ season to a close.

The last wicket partnership made the score somewhat respectable, being bowled out for 142 in 45.3 overs, however upon reflection, the game was lost by the top order batsmen, who were all out caught playing rash shots. Despite a spirited effort, it was not a complete performance as everyone would have hoped.

The Bears were disappointed as to how they bowed out, not reaching their full potential. However, they also kept their heads held high, as what they have achieved this season is something not many are able to experience in grade cricket.