Eaglehawk v Bendigo United
Played at Canterbury Park
Eaglehawk won toss and batted
M. Fitt c M. Normington b N. Balic 36
J. Abbott c D. Bicknell b N. Crawford 92
J. Brown c D. Bicknell b R. Mannix 26
M. White run out 10
N. Williams c M. Normington b N. Balic 55
L. Beatty b R. Mannix 6
A. West c C. Pinniger b R. Mannix 2
A. Smith c C. Pinniger b R. Mannix 8
R. Webb run out 32
G. Daly not out 0
Nine wickets for 276
Fall: 130 (Abbott), 132 (Fitt), 157 (White), 171 (Brown), 195 (Beatty), 199 (West), 211 (Smith), 273 (Williams), 276 (Webb).
Bowling: N. Balic 31-8-2-90, C. Martin 4-2-0-16, P. Jacobs 6-2-0-30, R. Beazley 12-6-0-18, N. Crawford 17-2-1-55, R. Mannix 15-5-4-59.
Bendigo United innings
C. Pinniger c M. Fitt b A. Smith 46
W. Fidler b T. Williams 8
H. Behrens b J. Brown 108
N. Crawford not out 81
D. Bicknell not out 24
Three wickets for 277
Fall: 22 (Fidler), 92 (Pinniger), 221 (Behrens).
Bowling: R. Webb 23-6-0-54, T. Williams 9-1-1-40, A. Smith 12-1-1-52, G. Daly 5.2-0-0-27, J. Brown 23-3-1-72, L. Beatty 5-0-0-12, J. Abbott 1-0-0-14.
Bendigo United won by seven wickets.
STRONG parallels can be drawn between the Bendigo United side of 2002-03 and the Eaglehawk outfit of this Bendigo District Cricket Association season.
Just like three years ago, Eaglehawk and Bendigo United will face off in this weekend's BDCA grand final, and there is somewhat of a similar feel about it, albeit, the roles have been reversed.
In 2002-03, Bendigo United was all but written off as a premiership contender at the halfway mark of the season when it sat in last position, with just one win.
However, after a barnstorming second half of the season, the Redbacks snuck into fourth spot courtesy of a final-round win over Strathfieldsaye.
The Redbacks then downed the red-hot Kangaroo Flat in the semi-final in a game even the most loyal of supporters must have thought they would struggle to win.
History shows the Redbacks' roll continued in the grand final the following week, with a comfortable win over Eaglehawk.
Fast forward three years, and Eaglehawk's progression to what is its fourth grand final in the space of five years has a similar feel about it.
With just three rounds remaining in the home and away season, the Hawks found themselves in sixth position on the ladder.
The scenario was simple - the Hawks had to win each of their final three games of the season to reach the finals, which they duly did.
Last week, they were pitted against minor premier Strathdale-Maristians, and like the Redbacks three years previously, it was a semi-final few thought they would win, especially after the Suns posted 9-301 on day one.
However, the Hawks defied the odds to win and progress through to what looked like an unlikely grand final appearance seven weeks ago.
Nick Crawford captained the Redbacks side of three years ago, which downed Eaglehawk in the grand final by seven wickets.
This weekend, Crawford will again be in the Redbacks' line-up chasing premiership glory, and the 30-year-old can still fondly recall the grand final victory of three season ago.
"I remember we couldn't get a wicket before tea on the first day, so we just tried to bowl really tightly after tea," Crawford said.
"Ricky Mannix (4-59) took four wickets after tea and bowled really well and Reuben Beazley (0-18) bowled something like 12 or 15 overs for about 18 runs.
"We were pretty happy to be only chasing 276 because they had obviously played pretty well before the break.
"Jason Abbott (92) got 90-odd and Neil Williams (55) batted at five or six and helped the middle-order."
Eaglehawk's score of 9-276 would normally win nine out of 10 grand finals, but a lightning fast outfield, combined with some intelligent batting on the Sunday helped the Redbacks win with seven wickets and six overs to spare.
Present captain Heath Behrens made 108, while Crawford contributed a valuable 81 not out.
Crawford and Behrens put on a match-winning partnership of 229 for the third wicket.
"Earlier on, Heath and Chris Pinniger (46) batted well for the second wicket and ticked the score along nicely.
"Then I came in and had the fortune of batting with Heath."