BDCA Grand Finalist: BENDIGO UNITED

THE SEASON: Bendigo United has certainly come a long way since it sat outside the top four after nine rounds.

At that stage the Redbacks had just lost three of their previous four games, including two upset defeats at the hands of White Hills and Bendigo.

But the Redbacks - who have played in every finals series since 2003 - have put that form slump behind them and are since undefeated in their past five games, which included an outright win over Bendigo in the final round to secure second spot.

PREMIERSHIP HISTORY: Bendigo United has won 16 first XI flags - 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1920, 1921, 1923, 1938, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010. 

THE BATTING: The Redbacks’ batting has been spruiked all season, with the three headline acts Matt Pinniger, Heath Behrens and Ben Gunn

Pinniger has been outstanding opening the batting with a BDCA-best 713 runs that features seven scores over 50, including each of his past three knocks.

Recruit Gunn (455) and the evergreen Behrens (308) at No.3 are all averaging above 40 and like Pinniger, have made tons this season.

Nick Crawford (227) has been steady in the middle-order, while Bryan Vance (165), who arrived at Harry Trott Oval with big wraps this season, has got his share of starts, without cashing in yet.

Mark Di Fede (172) has returned to the opening slot late in the season and been a good foil for Pinniger.

Captain Leigh McDermott (143) and young keeper-batsman Harry Donegan (160) are also among nine Bendigo United players averaging at least 21.

THE BOWLING: The Redbacks boast three players - Miggy Podosky (34), the wily Nick Crawford (31) and Leigh McDermott (26) - who all have 25-plus wickets for the season.

Podosky bowled the Redbacks into the grand final with his 7-49 against Strathdale last week.

McDermott’s consistent efforts with the ball have gone under the radar this season, while veteran off-spinner Crawford just keeps on keeping on.

Coach Marcus Smalley (10) and the tidy Byron Perrin (11) round out the Redbacks’ front-line bowlers, while Ben Gunn (13) could loom as a threat if called upon.

X-FACTOR: Ben Gunn - has shown this season that if he can get in and make a start, he normally goes on with it.

In innings where Gunn has made at least 16, he is averaging 188.5 on the back of scores of 110, 122, 51*, 57* and 37*.

Perhaps adding a bit of extra fuel to the fire for Gunn to perform is he is a former Golden Square player - but that seems a lifetime ago now.

THE MAN IN CHARGE: “The plan all season has been to be playing well at this time of the year and we’ve done a few different things to try to make sure that happened. 

“Taking a bit of momentum into the game is certainly a good thing and we feel it’s much better to get a result in a semi-final than get through because of the higher ladder position.

“To have guys who have played in multiple flags is a positive for us and hopefully, in a pressure situation or a close stage in the match it can be the difference.” – Leigh McDermott (captain).

WHY THEY CAN WIN: Momentum is vital at this time of the season and Bendigo United have it in spades.

Like a trainer preparing his horse to peak on Melbourne Cup day, the Redbacks appear primed to the minute on the back of their outstanding form since round 10.

That was never more evident than last week with the ruthless ease in which they disposed of Strathdale-Maristians in their semi-final.

Winning form is good form, and coupled with plenty of grand final experience, will hold the Redbacks in good stead. – LUKE WEST

SEASON STATISTICS

BATTING:

Matt Pinniger

Runs: 713 HS: 101 Avr: 59.4

Ben Gunn

Runs: 455 HS: 122 Avr: 41.4

Heath Behrens

Runs: 308 HS: 115* Avr: 44.0

Nick Crawford

Runs: 227 HS: 50 Avr: 32.4

Mark Di Fede

Runs: 172 HS: 82 Avr: 28.7

Bryan Vance

Runs: 165 HS: 44 Avr: 20.6

Harry Donegan

Runs: 160 HS: 52 Avr: 22.9

Leigh McDermott ©

Runs:143 HS: 40 Avr: 23.8

Miggy Podosky

Runs: 109 HS: 44 Avr: 21.8

Marcus Smalley

Runs: 29 HS: 14* Avr: 9.7

Byron Perrin

Runs: 6 HS: 6 Avr: 6.0

BOWLING:

Miggy Podosky

Wkts: 34 BB: 7-49 Avr: 15.4 ER: 2.6

Nick Crawford

Wkts: 31 BB: 5-20 Avr: 15.7 ER: 2.6

Leigh McDermott

Wkts: 26 BB: 4-25 Avr: 14.3 ER: 2.7

Ben Gunn

Wkts: 13 BB: 5-46 Avr: 17.9 ER: 3.1

Byron Perrin

Wkts: 11 BB: 3-20 Avr: 14.6 ER: 2.4

Marcus Smalley

Wkts: 10 BB: 2-27 Avr: 34.5 ER: 3.5

Bryan Vance

Wkts: 1 BB: 1-12 Avr: 46.0 ER: 4.2

PATH TO THE GRAND FINAL:

Rd 1: 7-229 lt Strathdale 8-230

Ben Gunn 110, Leigh McDermott 4-67

Rd 2: 3-234 d Strathfieldsaye 8-211

Heath Behrens 115*, Miggy Podosky 3-28

Rd 3: 219 d Sandhurst 181

Heath Behrens 45, Ben Gunn 5-46

Rd 4: 233 d Kangaroo Flat 190

Matt Pinniger 101, Nick Crawford 3-66

Rd 5: 203 d Huntly-North Epsom 150

Harry Donegan 52, Miggy Podosky 4-50

Rd 6: 139 lt Golden Square 149

Nick Crawford 42, Miggy Podosky 4-28

Rd 7: 8-270 d Eaglehawk 167

Ben Gunn 122, Nick Crawford 5-31

Rd 8: 8-215 lt White Hills 8-217

Matt Pinniger 68, Leigh McDermott 4-25

Rd 9: 5-199 lt Bendigo 9-200

Heath Behrens 58, Nick Crawford 3-40

Rd 10: 2-102 d Strathfieldsaye 94 & 197

Ben Gunn 51, Nick Crawford 4-17 (1st), Byron Perrin 3-44 (2nd)

Rd 11: 4-203 d Strathdale 5-199

Ben Gunn 57*, Miggy Podosky 2-20

Rd 12: 5-206 dr White Hills 0-0

Mark Di Fede 82, Bryan Vance 44

Rd 13: 1-93 & 0-100 d Bendigo 64 &128 outright

Matt Pinniger 64 * & 62*, Miggy Podosky 3-20 (1st), Nick Crawford 5-20 (2nd)

Semi: 3-143 d Strathdale 141

Matt Pinniger 67, Miggy Podosky 7-49

KEY STAT ANALYSIS:

RECORD 9-4-1

TOSS WON 6

BAT 1ST RECORD 5-3-1

BAT 2ND RECORD 4-1

RUNS PER WICKET 32.4

RUNS AGAINST PER WICKET 17.0

100’S 4

50’S 12

100 PARTNERSHIP 3

50 PARTNERSHIP 14

5 WICKETS + INNINGS 4

EXTRAS AGAINST 216

ECONOMY RATE 2.91

MAIDEN OVER % 25.1%

100’S AGAINST 1

50’S AGAINST 6

100 PARTNERSHIP AGAINST 1

50 PARTNERSHIP AGAINST 7

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