MURRAY Valley has reclaimed its crown as the division one champion team of the Bendigo Country Week cricket carnival.
And they did it by defeating the team that thrashed them in the grand final a year ago – Goulburn Murray.
Murray Valley won Friday’s heat-shortened final by 32 runs against Goulburn Murray, which had endured a far from ideal build-up after being disqualified on Thursday night for what was initially thought to it having used too many players (18) during the week, before the side was reinstated later that night at about 10.30pm.
Murray Valley’s victory was its first division one title since it won the last of its four in a row in 2012.
Friday’s win capped an unbeaten week for Murray Valley, which overall won its eighth division one title.
In the 35-over-a-side game that started at the earlier time of 9am, Murray Valley posted 155 after winning the toss and batting.
Opener Liam Evans was the catalyst for a flying start as he belted 58 off 46 balls, with six boundaries and one six.
With support from fellow opener Riley Gow (18), Murray Valley already had 70 on the board after 10 overs without loss.
However, despite the superb start, Murray Valley was unable to bat out its 35 overs as Goulburn Murray fought back valiantly with the ball to dismiss its rivals for 155 in the 34th.
Evans’ 58 took his carnival tally to 264 runs, while Goulburn Murray spinner Alister McCann capped a fine week by taking 3-15 off seven overs, giving him 14 scalps tor the tournament.
After a 36-run opening stand between Anthony McMahon and Jordan Garrett, who both made 14, Goulburn Murray lost wickets regularly throughout his innings before the end came in the 32nd over with the score 123.
Only Matthew Hinks (23) got past 20 for Goulburn Murray, while off-spinner Evans capped a man-of-the-match performance with 3-20 off seven overs, and 13 wickets for the week.
“It’s nice to get one back over these blokes (Goulburn Murray), who gave us a bit of a touch-up last year,” said Murray Valley captain Ashley Quinn, who made an unbeaten 20 with the bat.
“Liam (Evans) getting off to the start he did this morning and Riley (Gow), who is normally fairly aggressive, took a back seat and turned the strike over really well, so that was a great opening partnership.
“We’ve had a good week and it was obviously good to finish off the hard work.”