Redbacks and Square through to grand final

GOLDEN Square and Bendigo United will face off for the Bendigo District Cricket Association premiership following a rain-affected semi-final weekend.

Top-of-the-ladder Golden Square capitalised on its advantage, batting Eaglehawk out of their semi-final at MyJet Oval.

With the game reverting to ordinary conditions after rain halted play early on Saturday, Square was content to play for a draw, finishing at 239 off 122.5 overs on Sunday, while Eaglehawk didn't bat.

In the other semi-final at Harry Trott Oval, Bendigo United defeated Strathdale-Maristians by seven wickets to advance to its seventh grand final since 2006.

The Miggy Podosky-inspired Bendigo United dominated the Suns from the outset on Saturday as the Redbacks' strong late-season form continued.

After winning the toss and batting, the Suns were skittled for just 141.

The Suns had no answer to the brilliance of Bendigo United opening bowler Podosky.

Podosky ripped through the Suns' top-order on the way to superb match-winning figures of 7-49 off 22 overs.

It was a performance reminiscent of his 2010 semi-final effort against Golden Square when he also tore through Square's top-order, taking 5-41.

Podosky picked up the first four wickets to fall when he removed Adrian Pappin (0), Jack Neylon (1), Travis King (12) and Suns' captain Linton Jacobs (5).

At that stage the Suns were in dire straits at 4-41, of which Podosky had 4-21 off nine overs.

The Suns remained on the backfoot for the rest of their innings following the early onslaught, despite the efforts of Cameron Taylor, Ben DeAraugo and Jacob DeAraugo.

The Suns worked their way to 8-105 on Saturday before rain ended play early in the 50th over.

Following a delay of 75 minutes on Sunday, the Suns added 36 more runs after resuming before they were bowled out for 141.

Ben DeAraugo (43 off 93) top-scored for the Suns, with he and Jacob DeAraugo (22 n.o. off 47) putting on 46 for the ninth wicket in the best partnership of the innings, while Taylor battled hard on Saturday for his 39 off 73.

As well as Podosky's 7-49, a highlight for the Redbacks was their catching, with wicket-keeper Harry Donegan, Heath Behrens at slip and Byron Perrin all taking blinders during the Suns' innings.

Only Strathdale's Ben Smith (8-35 v Bendigo in 2001) has better bowling figures in a final since 2000 than Podosky's effort.

With a target of 142, the Redbacks made light work of their chase, answering with 3-143 off 34.5 overs.

Openers Matt Pinniger (67 off 80, six fours, one six) and Mark Di Fede (38 off 77, six fours) quashed any hopes of a Strathdale revival with a 108-run partnership.

The in-form Pinniger's 67 was his third consecutive score in the 60s and took his tally of runs for the season to 713.

Spinner Nick Roebuck (3-11 off six overs) picked up all three wickets for the Suns, who will miss their first grand final since 2008.

• At MyJet Oval, teenager Jake Higgins helped Golden Square shake its semi-final hoodoo.

Having lost three semi-finals in the past four years, Square progressed to its first grand final since 2009 on the back of a draw against rivals Eaglehawk.

Higgins, who was elevated up the order to No.3, was the star for Square with an unbeaten 88 in his side's 239 after it won the toss and batted.

Higgins and late inclusion Liam Smith provided the partnership that snuffed out Eaglehawk's hopes.

Golden Square resumed on Sunday at 6-122 after play was abandoned on Saturday in the 53rd over because of rain, sending the game into ordinary conditions.

Eaglehawk returned on Sunday full of optimism that it could take the four remaining wickets and chase down a target, but Higgins and Smith, who came into the side for the injured Scott Woodman (toe), put the game out of the Hawks' reach.

They patiently added 68 more runs to take the score to 190 and batted for 49 overs before Eaglehawk finally got the breakthrough when Smith (33 off 155) was caught by Zac East off Cameron McGlashan.

With the game heading for a draw, the only interest left in the match was whether Higgins could score his maiden first XI century.

Unfortunately for the 18-year-old, he had to settle for his highest first XI score after he ran out of partners and was left stranded on 88 not out.

Higgins showed enormous maturity, occupying the crease for 311 balls and 392 minutes, with his innings starting on Saturday with Square 1-35 following the first wicket of John Lalor (10).

Only Higgins, who hit 11 boundaries, and Smith made more than 20 for Golden Square. 

Eaglehawk captain Jason Abbott threw everything at Golden Square, using nine different bowlers, including wicket-keeper Matt Fitt (0-3) for an over.

Aaron Monro finished with the outstanding figures of 4-41 off 30.5 overs, including 13 maidens, while Richard Tibbett (2-63), McGlashan (2-34) and Cory Jacobs (2-49) took two wickets each.

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