Ferntree Gully, Goulburn Murray to play in Country Week final

FERNTREE Gully has the opportunity to go one better than last year’s grand final defeat when it plays Goulburn Murray in today’s Bendigo Country Week division one grand final.

Despite losing to Goulburn Murray in a thriller at Dower Park yesterday, Ferntree Gully edged out third-placed Gisborne by 64 runs on the ladder for a berth in today’s grand final.

Today will be Ferntree Gully’s second division one grand final in a row after losing to Murray Valley by 69 runs last year.Goulburn Murray – in its first year in Country Week following the merger of the Campaspe and Kyabram District cricket associations – heads into the QEO grand final unbeaten.

But GM had to work hard to get over the line against Ferntree Gully yesterday.

After being sent into bat, Ferntree Gully was bowled out for 201.

Ferntree Gully had plenty of contributions in its innings, with seven players scoring double figures, led by 53 from Mohammed Furrukh, who followed on from his unbeaten 81 against Castlemaine the previous day.

GM fielded well, with three of its wickets run-outs, including two by Michael Hill.

All-rounder Adam Ward (3-34) bowled well for GM, which replied with 8-204.

The successful run-chase was set up by a 100-run opening stand between the aggressive Tim Maxfield (74) and Brendan Prendergast (56).

However, Ferntree Gully fought back superbly after GM had later advanced to 4-174.

With the game slipping away, Ferntree Gully claimed 4-13, including the key wicket of Prendergast to leave GM 8-187.

But with the game back in the balance, Cameron Parker (12 n.o.) and No.10 Ben Docking (8 n.o.) guided GM to victory with an unbroken partnership of 17 for the ninth wicket.

Furrukh (3-75) and Adam Dobb (3-42) bowled 35 overs between them for Ferntree Gully and combined for six wickets.

● Four-time defending premiers Murray Valley belted Gisborne by 106 runs, but has had to settle for a fourth-place finish.

Murray Valley made the most of its invitation to bat first at Harry Trott Oval by blasting 5-270.

The innings was highlighted by captain Shaun Downie’s second century of the carnival.

Downie crunched an unbeaten 129 to go along with the 144 he made against Benalla on Tuesday.

Leif Lowen-Skovdam (2-32) was the pick of the bowlers for Gisborne, which batted out its 50 overs in reply, but was restricted to 9-164.

Murray Valley opener Ash Quinn bowled unchanged all innings to take 5-64 off 25 overs, including the wicket of Gisborne opener Travis Botten (0) without a run having been scored.

Captain Warren Else played a lone hand for Gisborne with 70 not out after starting his innings with his side 5-67.

Gisborne ended the carnival third in what was an impressive performance after being promoted from division two.

● In what was a clash between the two sides that will be relegated to division two next year, a century to captain Matt Kile spearheaded Castlemaine to a 126-run win over Benalla at Weeroona Oval.

Having gone into the game without a win, Castlemaine smashed 5-293 batting first, with Kile blasting 112.

Such was the way he dominated the Gisborne attack, Kile scored 112 of Castlemaine’s 135 runs while he was at the crease.

In what was an even batting performance, Chris McKnight (59 n.o.) was also in good touch for Castlemaine.

Benalla used nine different bowlers, with former Bendigo United quick Ben Milliken (2-58 off seven overs) its sole multiple wicket-taker, although, he did concede more than eight an over.

Benalla – which finished on the bottom of the ladder after being promoted from division two – could muster just 167 in reply as it struggled to build any momentum during its innings, with Castlemaine able to regularly take wickets and keep the pressure on.

Aaron Hinss, who top-scored for the second day in a row, batted well for his 43 to be one of just four Benalla batsmen who made double figures.

John Watson (3-3) and McKnight (3-54) picked up three wickets each for Castlemaine, while all-rounder Kile followed up his century with 2-14 off six overs.

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