ANOTHER man-of-the-match performance from Bendigo Country Week superstar batsman Liam Gwynne led Goulburn Murray to the division one title on Friday.
In a rematch of last year's grand final, Goulburn Murray avenged its disappointment of 12 months ago with an emphatic nine-wicket win against Ferntree Gully at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
In a match shortened to 40 overs-a-side following a delayed start because of rain, Goulburn Murray cruised to victory.
Chasing Ferntree Gully's 7-160, Goulburn Murray answered with 1-161 in just 30 overs to win the division one title in just the second season since the merger of the former Kyabram District and Campaspe competitions to form the new association.
Gwynne earned man-of-the-match honours for his unbeaten 75 that capped a stellar week by the Englishman.
Gwynne smashed 11 boundaries during his 93-ball knock, with his 75 not out capping a week in which he scored 489 runs at an average of 122.2.
Gwynne and fellow Englishman Joe Taylor (28) put on 79 for the first wicket, before Adam Ward (53 n.o., five fours, one six) helped Gwynne finish the job with 10 overs to spare.
The sole wicket-taker for Ferntree Gully - playing in its third division one grand final in a row- was Marshall Bunting (1-22) when he dismissed Taylor in the 14th over.
"Our confidence going into the game was quite high today and we knew that if we could restrict them to a reasonable total our batting line-up would get the runs," Goulburn Murray captain Michael Hill said.
"With our batting, we haven't had too many issues at the top this week, so we were confident the two boys (Taylor and Gwynne) at the top would get us off to a good start, which they did, and the way Wardy batted at the end was fantastic."
Earlier, Jayden Bradbury (48, six fours), captain Nicholas Bogar (42 n.o., two fours) and Martin Weightman (28, two fours, one six) combined for the bulk of Ferntree Gully's runs in its 7-160.
Bogar was involved in two 50-plus partnerships during the innings.
He put on 57 for the fourth wicket with Bradbury and 51 for the fifth with Weightman.
Goulburn Murray shared its wickets between Liam Ringin (3-33), Ward (2-48) and Dylan Cuttriss (1-33).
The victory capped a dominant week by Goulburn Murray, which won four of its five games.
It was a new-look Goulburn Murray side, with only Hill, Cuttriss and Ward returning members of last year's team that lost the grand final to Ferntree Gully by 53 runs.
"It's also really pleasing that we had four members of last year's winning Colts team come up and play with us, so that's really positive for the development of the league," Hill said.
"It's good we were able to give the young kids a crack and they proved themselves."
As for the efforts of Gwynne - who made scores this week of 185, 29, 171, 29 and 75 n.o. - Hill said it was a phenomenal performance by the left-hander.
"He's a very relaxed character and knows exactly what he can do when he bats and just goes out and does it," Hill said.
"It has been a fantastic effort."
Strathdale-Maristians' Cameron Taylor lived up to his "hired gun" tag by coaching the Goulburn Murray premiership team.