A MITCH Whittle spell for the ages, followed by an unbeaten Ryan Grundy century highlighted Huntly-North Epsom's BDCA grand final demolition of Golden Square at the weekend.
Underdogs the Power may have been against the side that finished 14 points clear at the top of the ladder, but Huntly-North Epsom dished out a cricketing lesson with both bat and ball at the QEO to complete a rags to riches tale.
Huntly-North Epsom - the club that once went 78 games without a win during the 2000s and whose survival at times has been under threat - is now BDCA premiers.
The 83-run whitewash, which was completed by 1.17pm on Sunday, was the Power's first premiership since the merger of the North Bendigo senior and Huntly junior clubs in 2001-02.
READ MORE - DAY ONE PHOTOS
The game got under way on Saturday with the most extraordinary first 30 minutes in which the Power's Whittle etched his name into Power - and BDCA - folklore.
Given he had made 188 runs in his previous two innings against the Power this season, there may well have been a sense of "here we go again" among the Huntly-North Epsom players when Golden Square opener Tim Wood hit Adam Ward for six over mid-wicket off the first ball of the game.
Wood's six off the first ball made for a memorable start to the grand final in itself and by the end of Ward's first over Square had 11 on the board and was off to a flyer after Ben Gunn won the toss for the fifth game in a row.
Fellow opener Ryan Hartley also got off the mark in fine style in the opening over, clipping Ward to the fine leg boundary off the first ball he faced that highlighted just how lightning quick the QEO outfield was.
But what had been a dream start for Golden Square quickly turned into a nightmare as Whittle made a mockery of the BDCA's most explosive batting line-up this season.
Bowling from the Barnard Street end, Whittle - an inclusion into the Power side after battling an inner ear complication that looked likely to end his season - had the stunning figures of 5-0 from his first 20 balls.
The much vaunted Square batting line-up cracked on the grand final stage as Whittle took wicket after wicket and wreaked havoc.
The carnage started on the fourth ball of Whittle's opening over when Wood nicked a cut-shot through to wicket-keeper Brodie McRae and was caught for six - a rare failure this season for a batsman who went into the grand final averaging 50.
The following delivery Whittle claimed the big scalp of Square captain Gunn for a golden duck, with the catch again taken by McRae when he nicked a delivery outside off stump.
In the space of two deliveries Whittle had dismissed two players with more than 1100 runs between them for Square this season - but that was just the beginning.
Whittle was again on a hat-trick in his third over when he again teamed with McRae to dismiss Hamish Schumacher (0), and then next delivery bowled Scott Woodman (0) to leave Square reeling at 4-11 and the crowd stunned.
But 4-11 then became 5-11 when on the second ball of Whittle's third over he added the wicket of Square veteran Scott Johnson (0) - again caught by a diving McRae down the leg side.
At that stage of a game that was just 30 minutes old Whittle had 5-0 and one hand firmly on the Taylor-Walsh Medal; McRae four catches; and Square's Hartley wondering what the hell was going on at the other end as his team crumbled.
That left Liam Smith to try to pick up the pieces with Hartley, and for 71 minutes they stemmed the tide and added a further 31 runs to push the score to 42 before the Power struck again.
This time it was left-armer Jarrod Hodoras who broke through when he had Smith (8) caught by Ward at cover.
Smith toiled for 69 balls for his eight and apart from Hartley was the only Square player to occupy the crease for any length of time.
Square looked like it may be bowled out before tea when Scott Trollope (10) and coach Grant Connelly (0) both fell victim to leg-spinner Sandun Ranathunga in the same over to dip further into the mire at 8-64.
Trollope spent an eventful 33 balls at the crease. He whacked Hodoras for four over square leg second ball he faced, but was also dropped twice by McRae before he was well caught and bowled by a diving Ranathunga to his left.
Square did manage to survive to tea, going to the break at 8-74 off 42 overs, with Hartley unbeaten on 39 and Connor Miller on six.
Miller was lucky to be there though after he was dropped by 12th man Dylan Lefevre at square leg off Ward in the final over before the break.
Ward later had another opportunity dropped off his bowling after the break when Anthony Tanner spilt a chance at mid-on off Hartley when he was on 46.
Square - which after having 11 on the board after the first over didn't add to its tally until the ninth - would have been 9-83 had the Hartley chance been taken.
Instead, Square added a further 45 runs to push its score to 128 before its innings ended on the first ball of the 53rd over at 3.33pm.
The best partnership of the innings was the 34 Hartley and Corey Van Aken (0) put on for the last wicket that began at 9-94 when Miller (9) presented McRae with a fifth catch, this time off Ward.
Hartley did a superb job of farming the strike late in the innings, with No.11 Van Aken only facing two balls during their 34-run stand.
Hartley - playing against his former club - became the first player to carry his bat in a BDCA grand final since Eaglehawk's Neil Williams in 2006 as he finished unbeaten on 87 off 155 balls - his third half-century in his past four innings.
Hartley showed his class in striking 10 boundaries and one six in his determined 215-minute knock.
Of the 54 runs Square added in their 11.1 overs after tea, Hartley scored 48 of them in what was a lone hand.
Following his early blitz of 5-0, Whittle - who didn't concede his first run until his 26th ball - finished with a career-best 5-22 off seven overs: his first BDCA five-for on the biggest of stages.
Ranathunga (2-22 off 7); Ward (1-44 off 15); Hodoras (1-9 off 5); and Danushka Wijemanna (1-18 off 10.1) shared the other five wickets between them.
While he didn't claim a wicket, Brett Elvey produced his customary economical figures of 0-11 off eight overs.
Keeper McRae - who along with Elvey was part of the Power team that in December of 2010 ended the club's 78-game winless streak - finished with five catches.
Exclude Hartley's 87 and the eight extras, the other 10 Golden Square batsmen combined for just 33 runs, while there were six ducks and not a run scored by batsmen 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the order - Gunn, Schumacher, Woodman and Johnson.
Outside of Hartley, the rest of the Golden Square top six faced just 25 balls between them.
The Golden Square capitulation left Huntly-North Epsom 29 overs to face before stumps and the Power made massive inroads into their target.
The Power went to stumps just 38 runs from victory at 2-91, with Grundy leading the charge.
Grundy was in fine touch from the outset, scoring 22 from his first 20 balls faced and later reached his half-century off 66 deliveries having earlier been given some luck when put down by Schumacher when on 12.
Grundy was unbeaten on 59 off 90, which included eight boundaries, at stumps, while Wijemanna was 10 n.o.
Power skipper Elliott Massina (5) and Ranathunga (16) were the two Power wickets to fall on the opening day.
Van Aken took the first wicket when Massina was trapped lbw in the sixth over, before Grundy and Ranathunga added 55 for the second wicket.
Ranathunga was given a life when Gunn put down a caught and bowled chance, but he only added two more runs before he was caught by Trollope at mid-off off Gunn.
Victory seemed a formality for the Power when play resumed on Sunday - it was just a matter of how long it would take to score the 38 runs, and how long the grand final would continue once Huntly-North Epsom reached its target.
The answer to the first question was 13.2 overs and 37 minutes as the Power surpassed Square's 128 when Grundy flicked Van Aken to fine leg for four.
The passing of the target was met with applause by the Power players on the sidelines and a handshake in the middle between Grundy and Wijemanna, but there was no cause for celebration yet as the game continued.
But it finally became Power party time 40 minutes later when, after Grundy brought up his century, Square conceded and the premiership was officially Huntly-North Epsom's as it finished at 2-211 off 56 overs.
Grundy etched his name into BDCA history by scoring the 27th grand final century, finishing unbeaten on 100 - his ton coming with a push for a single off Wood (0-6).
Grundy, who played through some of the Power's darkest days of the 2000s, faced 168 balls and struck 13 boundaries in what was his third century of the season - the most in the competition - and eighth of his career.
Grundy and Wijemanna's partnership alone outscored Golden Square as they put on an unbroken 138 for the third wicket that took the score from 2-73 to 211.
Wijemanna had also looked headed for a century, but was left 89 n.o. off 100 balls when stumps were pulled.
The classy Wijemanna provided plenty of lusty hitting to inflict further misery on Golden Square, with the 79 runs he scored on day two featuring six sixes and seven boundaries, with his knock the sixth time he has passed 50 this season.
Van Aken (1-33 off 8) and Gunn (1-46 off 12) finished as the only two wicket-takers for Golden Square, which is 0-2 in grand finals this season after also losing the Keck Findlay Shield one-day final to White Hills last month.
GRAND FINAL SCOREBOARD:
GOLDEN SQUARE v HUNTLY NORTH EPSOM
At Queen Elizabeth Oval
Golden Square 1st Innings
T WOOD c McRae b Whittle 6
R HARTLEY not out 87
B GUNN c McRae b Whittle 0
H SCHUMACHER c McRae b Whittle 0
S WOODMAN b Whittle 0
S JOHNSON c McRae b Whittle 0
L SMITH c Ward b Hodoras 8
S TROLLOPE c & b Ranathunga 10
G CONNELLY b Ranathunga 0
C MILLER c McRae b Ward 9
C VAN AKEN b Wijemanna 0
Fall: 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 42, 64, 64, 94, 128.
Bowling: A Ward 15-6-44-1, M Whittle 7-4-22-5, D Wijemanna 10.1-4-18-1, B Elvey 8-4-11-0, J Hodoras 5-3-9-1, S Ranathunga 7-2-22-2.
Batting Time: Overs: 52.1.
Huntly North Epsom 1st Innings
E MASSINA lbw b Van Aken 5
R GRUNDY not out 100
S RANATHUNGA c Trollope b Gunn 16
D WIJEMANNA not out 89
Two wickets for 211
Fall: 18, 73.
Bowling: S Trollope 8-1-28-0, C Van Aken 8-1-33-1, G Connelly 5-2-13-0, C Miller 8-4-29-0, B Gunn 12-1-46-1, L Smith 10-1-45-0, S Johnson 4-2-11-0, T Wood 0.6-0-6-0.
Batting Time: Overs: 55.6.
Huntly North Epsom won on first innings.
Umpires: Peter Williams, Forbes Klemm.
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