BDCA GRAND FINAL MATCH REPORT

BENDIGO United saved one of its most ruthless performances of the season for when it mattered most to win the Bendigo District Cricket Association grand final at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on the weekend.

The Redbacks pummelled Golden Square by 164 runs in a game where they were dominant with both bat and ball.

Led by a Matt Pinniger-century on Saturday and a five-wicket haul from off-spinner Nick Crawford on Sunday, the Redbacks made 6-283 before dismantling Golden Square for just 119.

Golden Square capitulated with the bat on Sunday following a promising start from openers John Lalor and Scott Johnson.

With an imposing target of 284 in front of them, Lalor and Johnson gave Golden Square the start it was looking for against the new ball.

With Lalor doing the bulk of the scoring and looking particularly dangerous, they ticked the scoreboard over at a similar rate to Bendigo United had on Saturday.

Lalor looked the most threatening of the openers, scoring three boundaries in his first 19 runs.

They put on 44 for the first wicket before the Redbacks got the breakthrough when captain Leigh McDermott had Lalor (27 off 47) caught by Heath Behrens at second slip in the 15th over.

Lalor's dismissal brought to the wicket the previous week's Golden Square semi-final hero Jake Higgins to join Johnson.

With Higgins and Johnson at the crease, the Redbacks through McDermott and Marcus Smalley were able to put a clamp on the Square scoring and build the pressure.

Higgins was given a let-off when he was dropped by a diving Crawford at square leg on 11 off Smalley with the score on 57.

However, the dropped catch didn't prove costly as two runs later Higgins (13 off 33) was trapped lbw by Smalley.

Higgins - dismissed for just the fourth time this season - and Johnson added 15 for the second wicket off 62 balls.

The Higgins' wicket left Golden Square 2-59 in the 26th over and would prove the beginning of the end for the team that finished 17 points clear at the top of the ladder and had lost just one game.

In the 50 minutes leading up to tea, Bendigo United ripped the game away from Golden Square through the spin of Crawford and an outstanding piece of fielding from Ben Gunn.

Between 1.40pm and the tea break at 2.30pm, the Redbacks claimed 5-33, dismissing Higgins, captain Tim Wood (13 off 12), Scott Johnson (13 off 84), Jason Johnson (5 off 21) and Grant Connelly (8 off 18).

Gunn's run-out of Wood was one of the highlights of the grand final.

Wood had looked in ominous touch as he raced to 13 off his first 11 balls, including running a four and hitting a six off Smalley in consecutive deliveries.

However, the following over he hit McDermott to Gunn at gully and set off for a run.

But he turned back, only to be run-out from a direct hit from his former Strathfieldsaye team-mate that shaped as a match-defining moment.

Crawford was instrumental in the Redbacks' burst before tea.

Introduced into the attack in the 30th over at the Barnard Street end, inside his first five overs he had figures of 3-16 - all the key wickets of Scott and Jason Johnson and Connelly.

Scott Johnson - who Square needed to bat through after facing 84 balls for his 13 - was superbly caught by keeper Harry Donegan when he pushed forward and edged.

Jason Johnson and Connelly - who was dismissed on what became the last ball before tea - were both caught and bowled.

Bendigo United had one hand on the premiership shield at tea with Golden Square reeling at 6-92 off 37.1 overs, and the end came 12 overs after play resumed.

The Redbacks took the last four wickets after tea for 27 runs, with Crawford picking up two of them - Luke Baird (4 off 18) and Jamie Bysouth (7 off 10) - to finish with a grand final five-for.

The match-winning catch was a brilliant diving effort from Mark Di Fede at deep mid-wicket in front of the grandstand to dismiss Bysouth.

Crawford bagged 5-28 off 10.1 overs in what was his third haul of five wickets for the season.

It's not the first time Crawford has ripped through Golden Square in a grand final - he also took 6-69 against them in 2007.

McDermott - a first-time premiership captain - constantly had the Square batsmen playing and missing during his spell of 1-14 off 13 overs.

Of the 78 balls McDermott bowled, he was only scored off eight of them.

Premiership coach Smalley claimed 1-23 off nine overs.

Smalley's first eight overs went for just 11 runs, before he had 12 hit off his ninth as Wood went after him.

Opening bowler Miggy Podosky picked up two wickets after tea - Scott Trollope (16 off 31) and Liam Smith (3 off 14) - to end the match with 2-31 off 12 overs.

On Saturday after Bendigo United won the toss and batted, opener Matt Pinniger's outstanding season continued as he was the backbone of the Redbacks' 6-283.

Pinniger - batting with a broken toe - scored the BDCA's first grand final century for seven years with a brilliant 115 that was his second ton of the season.

Pinniger opened the batting with Mark Di Fede on a belter of a grand final wicket well prepared by the City of Greater Bendigo curators.

Golden Square sprung the first surprise of the match when Grant Connelly - not Darren Clutton - opened the bowling with Luke Baird.

Di Fede made a positive start to his innings when on the first ball he faced, he clipped Connelly to fine leg for a boundary.

That was the first of four boundaries in Bendigo United's first 20 runs on what was a lightning fast QEO outfield.

Di Fede and Pinniger put on 28 for the first wicket, before the introduction of Clutton into the attack at the city end reaped rewards for Golden Square in the 10th over.

In his second over Clutton claimed Golden Square's first wicket when Di Fede (14 off 29) shouldered arms and was bowled off-stump.

For the second week in a row, the No.3 batting position for Bendigo United that has so long been Heath Behrens' was filled by Ben Gunn.

Gunn was tested early by Clutton, who from his first over bowled with his customary sharp pace.

However, both Gunn and Pinniger survived the early onslaught from Clutton and batted Bendigo United into a position of strength.

While Pinniger is well-known for his attacking flair, he showed tremendous temperament and patience as he continually refused to play at anything outside off-stump, particularly from Baird.

Both Pinniger and Gunn were content to wait for the loose ball, and when it came, they capitalised.

Gunn and Pinniger were in complete control against a Golden Square side that didn't put the pair under enough constant pressure before tea.

The Redbacks - who scored only six of their first 57 runs in singles - brought up their 100 in the 37th over, and by the tea break both Pinniger and Gunn had made half-centuries as Bendigo United looked on track for a 300-plus score, like its last grand final against Golden Square in 2007.

With Pinniger on 55 off 135 balls and Gunn on 50 off 113, the Redbacks went to the tea break at 1-123 off 46 overs and the game at their mercy.

With the match in control of Bendigo United at tea, there was relief for Golden Square three overs into the resumption when left-arm spinner Liam Smith claimed the wicket of his former Strathfieldsaye team-mate, Gunn.

Gunn went out to one of the great BDCA grand final catches when a leading edge skied to mid-off.

Thankfully for Golden Square, it went to their tallest player Scott Trollope, who running back with the flight of the ball took a brilliant one-handed reaching catch, which ended Gunn's innings on 57 (123 balls, seven fours).

Gunn and Pinniger added 101 for the second wicket off 230 balls, with Gunn's dismissal leaving the Redbacks' 2-129 in the 49th over.

Heath Behrens - coming off scores of 4 and 0 in his previous two grand finals - added 64 more for the third wicket with Pinniger in a 130-ball partnership.

In what was his 10th grand final, Behrens played some of the shots of the day with his cover drive boundaries in his knock of 30 off 74 balls, before he spooned a catch to Clutton at mid-wicket to give Baird his first wicket in his 20th over.

The wicket of Behrens, who early in his innings took 46 balls to reach double figures, left the Redbacks  3-193 in the 72nd over.

However, Pinniger - who is now averaging 68.9 in finals for Bendigo United - remained the main stumbling block for Square, with the opener bringing up his century in the 75th over with a single off Connelly. 

Pinniger reached 115 before his supreme innings came to an end in the 78th over when a skied shot was caught by the BDCA's No.1 fieldsman for the season, Tim Wood, at point off Clutton.

Pinniger batted for 254 minutes, faced 225 balls and hit 15 fours in his knock, which was the first BDCA grand final century since Behrens' 139 not out against Golden Square in 2007.

Pinniger's 115 - which took his tally of runs for the season to 828 at an average of 63.6 - was his second-consecutive ton in a final against Golden Square after he also made 126 not out against them in the 2010 semi-final.

Following Pinniger's wicket with the score on 228, the Redbacks added 55 more runs off the last 43 balls through captain Leigh McDermott and Harry Donegan to end the day at 6-283.

Those 55 runs included 17 off the last over bowled by Connelly.

Connelly's last over featured two sixes from McDermott, who was run out off the final ball of the innings by Jason Johnson attempting an unlikely second run.

McDermott made 32 off 28, while Donegan batted well to finish 24 not out off 24 balls.

McDermott's 32 continued his strong lower-order grand final contributions for the Redbacks.

In four grand final innings for Bendigo United, McDermott has made scores of 32 n.o., 14, 44 and 32.

The 17-run last over ended the innings on a high for Bendigo United after Golden Square had fought back well after the break to keep the Redbacks under 300.

Clutton finished with 3-78 off 21 overs to be the only multiple wicket-taker for Golden Square.

As well as dismissing openers Di Fede and Pinniger, Clutton also claimed the wicket of Bryan Vance (5), caught by wicket-keeper Jake Higgins.

The consistent Baird also bowled 21 overs, including eight maidens, taking 1-47 and helping to rein the Redbacks in after tea.

Smith bowled well in his 15-over spell for his 1-41.

Connelly finished with 0-73 off 18 overs, having earlier conceded just 27 runs off his first 11 overs, which at one stage included four consecutive maidens.

Golden Square fielded well, but catching chances were few and far between, while the side also did well in conceding just six extras - two no-balls, two wides and two leg byes.

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