FERNTREE Gully yesterday celebrated its first Bendigo Country Week division one title, beating Goulburn Murray in the grand final at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
A year after losing the grand final to Murray Valley, the young Ferntree Gully – with an average age of just 22 – defeated Goulburn Murray by 53 runs.
Ferntree Gully made the most of its decision to bat first, posting 7-219 off its 50 overs.
Five of the nine Ferntree Gully batsmen made more than 20 as it got contributions all through the order.
However, the innings got off to a shaky start when, on the fourth ball, opener Jayden Bradbury (0) was dismissed by Colin Griggs without a run being scored.
The early breakthrough was crucial for Goulburn Murray, with Bradbury having scored 202 runs leading into the final.
From 1-0, identical twins Luke McComb and Robbie McComb set about getting Ferntree Gully into a solid position.
They batted together until the 14th over and took the score to 41 before Luke McComb (31 off 41, three fours) was trapped lbw by Adam Ward (3-70).
But Goulburn Murray wouldn’t take another wicket for 21 overs as Robbie McComb and Josh Henry shared in the best partnership of the innings.
The pair put on 88 for the third wicket, with the partnership ending with the score on 129 when Henry was removed by David Curry (1-40).
Henry made 52 off 61 balls, hitting three fours, as he top-scored for Ferntree Gully.
Having started his innings in the first over, Robbie McComb fell soon after Henry when Griggs (2-59) claimed his second wicket.
McComb batted patiently for his 41, spending 135 minutes at the crease and facing 109 balls.
And when the in-form Mohammed Furrukh (0 off 5), who had made back-to-back half-centuries, and man-of-the-match Adam Dobb (22 off 14, two sixes) quickly followed, Ferntree Gully had lost 4-29 to be 6-158 in the 41st over.
But Marshall Bunting, along with support from Steve Devenish (14 off 23) and Blake Walter (5 n.o. off 4), finished the innings strongly for Ferntree Gully, adding a valuable 61 more runs.
Bunting was unbeaten on 42 off 44 balls, hitting four boundaries in his knock.
With a competitive total on the board, Ferntree Gully then kept the pressure on Goulburn Murray all throughout its run-chase.
After putting on 100 for the first wicket against Ferntree Gully the previous day, Bunting (2-23) had dismissed Goulburn Murray openers Brendan Prendergast (1 off 14) and Tim Maxfield (18 off 18) by the time the score had reached 20.
Maxfield had looked in particularly ominous touch in his innings, with his 18 including four boundaries.
The best partnership Goulburn Murray could muster in its innings was the 45 Michael Hill (24 off 38) and captain Dylan Cuttriss put on for the third wicket that took the score to 65 in the 19th over.
Later, at 4-99 in the 28th over, Goulburn Murray was up against it, but it wasn’t out of the game.
However, the dismissal of Adam Ward (14 off 20) by Dobb sparked the beginning of the end for Goulburn Murray, which lost its last six wickets for 67 runs to be bowled out for 166.
Cuttriss battled hard for his side as he was the only Goulburn Murray player to pass 50, compiling 60 off 95, with four boundaries.
Hill and Cameron Parker (28 off 48) were the only other Goulburn Murray players to make more than 20 in what was the side’s first defeat of the week on the day that mattered most.
Dobb was a deserving winner of the medal for the best player in the grand final.
As well as his 22, he claimed 4-45 off his 15 overs of off-spin and took two catches, including the match-winner off fellow spinner Steve Devenish (2-26).
“It’s a very young side we’ve had this week, so it has been a fantastic effort by the boys,” Ferntree Gully captain Jay Collee said.
“To bring such a young side to play in the top division against teams with a lot more experience than us, I couldn’t be more prouder of them.
“We batted well to get the runs on the board, and the bowlers bowled well, so it was a great effort all-round today.”
Yesterday was the first time since Campaspe triumphed in 2008 that Murray Valley didn’t win the division one grand final.