IT was a junior cricket grand final nobody could predict the winner of, the teams were that close.
Emerald Brothers under-16s and Blackwater had been pretty much on par all season but in the decider it was Brothers which rose to the occasion to take the title.
Set 129 runs for victory, Blackwater could summon just 86 of those after a run-starving bowling display by Brothers in the second innings.
Emerald fired early with opener Joey Pratt making 18 runs before his top score was trumped by Christian King and Robert Cupper further down the order with 22 runs a piece.
Julian Harris did well with the ball for Blackwater, taking 1-10 from his seven overs bowled, including three maidens.
In reply Blackwater started solidly with Dylan Page making 38 runs and Al Denysschen 10, but from then on it was all downhill with the majority of the middle to lower order falling for less than five.
“The bowling from Brothers was very tight – it tied our batters down,” Blackwater coach Dave Glover said.
“Usually we have batsman who go on to retire but this week it just never happened.”
Emerald under-13’s bowler Donald Whyte could find himself promoted more often in the senior grades than he expected after an impressive effort stepping to the plate in last weekend’s under-16 final. The Brothers junior cleaned up the Blackwater batting tail with final figures of 3-1 from two overs.
The remaining wickets shared equally around the squad with Cupper, Pratt and Jacob Jackson from Brothers all taking one each.
The grand final win makes for Brothers under-16s second title in as many years and is a credit to the close-running battle between the neighbouring sides all season.
“It was pretty tight, we’ve been neck and neck the whole competition,” Emerald coach Pat Hitchens said.
“Every time we play Blackwater it’s always tight.
“We played a bit of continuous cricket at training the week before, working on our fielding.”
He said the fielding focus seems to have paid off with hardly a dropped catch to be seen come game day. Hitchens hopes to return to the coaching position for next season.
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