STRATHDALE-Maristians put the finishing touch to an unblemished season in the Bendigo District Cricket Association on Saturday with a comfortable six-wicket win over Kangaroo Flat in the grand final at the QEO.
Led by a class all-round game from Taylor-Walsh medallist Cameron Taylor and a 30-ball blitz from Jack Neylon that broke the game wide open, the Suns won their seventh flag in the past 11 seasons.
Chasing Kangaroo Flat's 8-153, the Suns replied with 4-154, winning with 52 balls to spare as the curtain came down on the BDCA's one-day season.
"It's a season we're really proud of. Going through undefeated isn't something we set out for at the start of the year, but once we won a few games, we knew we had a fairly strong line-up," Suns' skipper Ben DeAraugo said.
"There's a few of us who don't profess to the adage that you need to lose a game before finals to sharpen up... we'd much prefer to go in undefeated, which is pretty rare.
"And it's pretty rare, too, that this group of 11 players is the same that played in the finals series last year and is probably a key factor in our success in that it makes things a little bit automatic and my job as captain is much easier when you have the same group of guys who know where to go in the field and all that type of thing, so I'm really proud of them."
While they have spent the majority of the season batting second and successfully chasing targets, the Roos opted to get runs on the board, with skipper Chris Barber winning the toss and batting.
The Roos got away to the start they were looking for, with Barber and fellow opener Nathan Stubbings not only safely negotiating the first 10 overs, but they had the runs ticking over.
With Barber the aggressor of the pair the Roos were 0-37 after 10 overs, with the skipper having scored 33 and looking in good touch.
However, once Strathdale got the first breakthrough when Stubbings (3) slashed outside off stump and was caught by wicket-keeper Linton Jacobs off Sam Johnston, the Suns asserted their authority.
From 0-37, the Roos lost 4-19 in the space of 11 overs, with three of the four wickets catches behind the stumps - two to Jacobs and a sharp chance taken by Taylor at slip off Chris Sole to remove dangerman Jake Klemm (3).
Also among the four quick wickets to fall were Barber (41, including five boundaries), who scored 41 of the Roos' first 56 runs before being caught at deep mid-wicket by Jack Neylon off Ryan Haythorpe, and Josh Collinson (5).
It could have been 5-60 soon after, but the Roos were given a reprieve when Sole dropped Adam Burns - the only player in the team to have played in a Roos' premiership - at mid-off before he had got off the mark off Jacob DeAraugo.
Fellow Roos' batsman Matt Dwyer also had a slice of luck when he appeared to play a Johnston delivery onto his stumps.
The stumps lit up, indicating they had been hit, but the bails stayed intact and instead Dwyer scored three runs.
Earlier in his innings Dwyer (22) got away to a strong start, hitting Haythorpe down the ground for a boundary and six with his first two scoring shots as he and Burns set about rebuilding the Roos' innings.
They added 32 for the fifth wicket before Burns (11) was stumped by Jacobs - one of his four dismissals in the innings - off Taylor, leaving the Roos 5-88 in the 31st over.
And when that became 8-126 in the 41st over, the Roos were in danger of not batting out their 45 overs.
However, all-rounder Brent Hamblin (38 n.o.) and Daniel Barber (8 n.o.) combined to add 27 off the last 28 balls, with Hamblin cracking Sole for four off the final delivery of the innings to push the Roos' score above 150.
The final delivery boundary was one of four fours Hamblin hit in his knock.
Hamblin, who came in following the dismissal of Burns, picked up from where he left off the previous week in the preliminary final win over Eaglehawk when he made an unbeaten 42.
The Suns shared their wickets between five bowlers, with leg-spinner Taylor taking the bowling honours with 3-18 from nine overs and lifting his career finals tally to 44 wickets.
Sole finished with 2-34, one of his scalps a brilliant diving catch down the leg side by Jacobs to dismiss Lewis Stabler (1).
Sole himself also took two catches, both at long-on to end the knocks of Dwyer and Dylan Klemm (5).
Johnston (1-40), Jacob DeAraugo (1-11) and Haythorpe (1-19) took the other three wickets for the Suns, who required a run-rate of 3.4 to win the game.
The Roos desperately needed early wickets to get into the Suns' middle-order and put the pressure on, but they were denied by openers Taylor and James Vlaeminck.
The openers got the Suns away to a start similar to that of the Roos, scoring 36 runs off the first 10 overs without loss, with Vlaeminck taking the bulk of the strike and looking in good touch.
And just like the Roos' innings, the Suns lost their first wicket in the 11th over when Vlaeminck (23) was caught at backward square leg by Kenny Beith off Dylan Klemm (1-21) with the score on 39.
The Roos' second breakthrough came six overs later when star batsman Grant Waldron (2) was struck on the thigh pad by a Hamblin delivery and given out lbw, leaving the Suns 2-61.
Waldron's dismissal though paved the way for a brilliant cameo from Jack Neylon that knocked the wind out of the Roos' sails.
As he has done so often this season, Neylon immediately went on the attack and smashed 43 off just 30 balls to rip the game away from Kangaroo Flat.
Neylon blasted four sixes (two each off Stabler and Chris Barber) and three fours, with he and Taylor sharing in a 53-run stand off just 45 balls.
One of Neylon's sixes off Barber (0-21) landed in the adjoining QEO netball court.
Such was the acceleration at which he scored, when Neylon started his innings, Taylor was 31 n.o.
By the time Neylon departed when trapped lbw by Burns (1-24) with the score on 114 in the 26th over, he had overtaken Taylor.
The Roos picked up one more wicket when Hamblin had Ben DeAraugo (2) caught by keeper Dwyer, before Taylor and Linton Jacobs (13 n.o.) finished the job for the Suns.
Fittingly, given he had batted for all 147 minutes of the innings, it was Taylor who hit the winning runs with a drive off Hamblin for four off the second ball of the 36th over.
Taylor scored the only half-century of the game, finishing 60 n.o. off 81 deliveries with six boundaries and one six struck off Beith (0-8).
With his unbeaten 60 combined with his 3-18 and one catch - an Addy MVP game of 130 points - Taylor was duly rewarded his first Taylor-Walsh Medal to add to a packed BDCA CV that now includes six premierships and four Cricketer of the Year Awards.
"I think we all know the heroics Ben (DeAraugo, four-time Taylor-Walsh medallist) has had for us in grand finals and something I thought that was perhaps a bit of a blemish against my name is I haven't performed as well with the bat in grand finals," Taylor said.
"I've always felt I've been OK with the ball and consistent, but you feel like you've played well if you make runs, so it was nice to contribute with the bat today.
"With the one-day game, because of the blokes I've got around me I can afford to bat through and take my time... without that innings from Jack today then I wouldn't have been able to do what I did.
"I felt good out there today on a good wicket and knowing that we had blokes who could score quickly and freely."
For the Roos, Hamblin was their standout performer with the ball.
In a season in which he finished with a competition-best 35 wickets, Hamblin snared 2-19 off 7.2 overs after one stage having figures of 2-3 from 5.2 overs.
The defeat leaves 2005 as still Kangaroo Flat's last first XI premiership.
While disappointed with the outcome on Saturday, first-year skipper Barber said the loss would provide the impetus for the Roos to strive to continue to improve next season to go one better.
"It's tough to lose, but having the opportunity to play in a grand final and see what it's all about... we've got the experience and seen what it takes, so it should really drive us for a better season next year and build on what we've created to get to this stage," Barber said.
"Full credit to Strathdale; you don't go through the season undefeated for no reason and they showed that today.
"They are a class outfit, a team that has been up there for a number of years and knows what it takes as a group and how to work together as a group.
"We're getting to that stage as we showed this year by getting to the grand final, but we've now got to take that extra step to be able to win one."
Strathdale-Maristians' premiership team on Saturday - which now has 49 flags between it - is the same 11 players from last year's team that won the flag.
That was a flag, though, won against Huntly-North Epsom courtesy of an abandoned grand final caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think deep down that probably drove us that bit more this year; it was great to win it last season, but it was definitely a bit hollow given there was no grand final played," said DeAraugo, now a seven-time premiership player with the Suns.
"We wanted to come out today and perform on the big stage and the team did that, so I'm really proud."
As well as the first XI triumph, the Suns also won the BDCA's second XI, fourth XI, under-18, under-14A and under-12 A premierships on a memorable weekend for the powerhouse club.
Meanwhile, there was a source of tremendous frustration for players and supporters - and those trying to rectify the problem - during the best part of 20 overs of the Kangaroo Flat innings when a major malfunction of the MyCricket program rendered the QEO scoreboard useless.
While the MyCricket problem was unable to be rectified during the game and therefore couldn't be live-scored, the scoreboard issue was finally resolved for the last 15 overs of the Roos' innings and beyond.
STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS PREMIERSHIP TEAM - Ben DeAraugo (c), Daniel Clohesy, Jacob DeAraugo, Ryan Haythorpe, Linton Jacobs, Sam Johnston, Jack Neylon, Chris Sole, Cameron Taylor, James Vlaeminck, Grant Waldron.
ADDY MVP GRAND FINAL POINTS:
1 run = 1 point
1 wicket = 20 points
1 catch = 10 points
1 run out = 15 points
1 stumping = 15 points
130 - Cameron Taylor
Runs: 60 Wkts: 3 Field: 1
78 - Brent Hamblin
Runs: 38 Wkts: 2 Field: -
60 - Chris Sole
Runs: - Wkts: 2 Field: 2
58 - Linton Jacobs
Runs: 13 Wkts: - Field: 4
53 - Jack Neylon
Runs: 43 Wkts: - Field: 1
41 - Chris Barber
Runs: 41 Wkts: - Field: -
32 - Matt Dwyer
Runs: 22 Wkts: - Field: 1
31 - Adam Burns
Runs: 11 Wkts: 1 Field: -
25 - Dylan Klemm
Runs: 5 Wkts: 1 Field: -
23 - James Vlaeminck
Runs: 23 Wkts: - Field: -
20 - Jacob DeAraugo
Runs: - Wkts: 1 Field: -
20 - Ryan Haythorpe
Runs: - Wkts: 1 Field: -
20 - Sam Johnston
Runs: - Wkts: 1 Field: -
10 - Kenny Beith
Runs: - Wkts: - Field: 1
8 - Daniel Barber
Runs: 8 Wkts: - Field: -
5 - Josh Collinson
Runs: 5 Wkts: - Field: -
3 - Jake Klemm
Runs: 3 Wkts: - Field: -
3 - Nathan Stubbings
Runs: 3 Wkts: - Field: -
2 - Ben DeAraugo
Runs: 2 Wkts: - Field: -
2 - Grant Waldron
Runs: 2 Wkts: - Field: -
1 - Lewis Stabler
Runs: 1 Wkts: - Field: -
0 - Daniel Clohesy
Runs: - Wkts: - Field: -
BDCA LOWER GRADE GRAND FINALS
STRATHDALE-Maristians' domination of the BDCA's under-18 competition continued on Friday night.
The Suns captured their sixth-consecutive under-18 premiership with a 20-run win over Bendigo in the grand final at Canterbury Park.
Set up by an opening stand of 78 between captain Matthew Wilkinson (44) and Will Gilmore (32), the Suns compiled 4-133 after winning the toss and batting.
The Goers - the last club to win an under-18 flag in 2015 before the Suns' domination of the competition took hold - batted out their 25 overs in reply, but fell short as they were restricted to 7-113.
The Suns' Jack Pysing claimed the game's best bowling figures of 3-10, while Goers' captain Alister Brasher followed up his 2-36 with the ball by making 38 n.o.
* Having captained the under-18 premiership on Friday night, Wilkinson backed up the following day with a key role in Strathdale-Maristians' second XI win over Sandhurst at Tannery Lane.
Wilkinson (61) and fellow under-18 player James Barri (56) provided the backbone of the Suns' 8-156 batting first as they shared in a 109-run stand for the second wicket.
Sandhurst leg-spinner Ben Evans produced a standout performance with the ball to snare 5-32 off nine overs.
The Dragons were all out for 117 in reply, with Braydon Vaz (49) top-scoring, while Michael Prowse bagged 3-36 as the Suns won their first flag in the second XI since 2014.
* Strathfieldsaye atoned for last year's third XI grand final loss to Bendigo United, beating the Redbacks by six wickets in their re-match at the QEO on Sunday.
Led by 4-11 off five overs from left-armer Justin Hargreaves, the Jets restricted the defending premier Redbacks to 8-98 off their 25 overs.
In reply the Jets had plenty of time left up their sleeve as they needed just 16.5 overs to reach 4-99.
* Strathdale-Maristians' weekend of premiership success also included the fourth XI.
The Suns (7-107) won a tight encounter against Huntly-North Epsom (105) by three wickets at J.G. Edwards Oval.
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