Bathurst’s 18-run win over Orange on Sunday made no difference to the grand final layout, with the Barracudas set to host the Bluebaggers in the Mitchell Cricket Council decider on March 3.
Bathurst won the toss and elected to bat at Jack Brabham Park 1, with Hugh Taylor and Connor Brown opening the batting.
Taylor fell with Bathurst at 1-8, before number three Cooper Stephen was the next to fall at 2-45.
Bathurst were able to bat out their 40 overs, finishing with 4-135, captain Ruben Newton hitting a high of 33 not out for the visitors.
Orange’s opening batsman and top order failed to score any significant runs, Thomas Blowes out for 16, Oliver Jarick bowled for 12, Taj Jordan managing just seven, while Toby Middleton was dismissed for a duck.
Number five Harry Brazier was unable to inspire his team, out for four, but it was number six Oliver Brincat who did his best to keep the Bluebaggers’ dream alive with a match-high 35 runs.
But Orange fell 18 runs short, all out for 117 after 30.4 overs.
Bathurst coach Phil Newton praised the Orange bowlers, who were able to restrict Bathurst to just 4-135.
“It was by far the closest game we’ve had and there was a bit of pressure on the boys at the end, with it getting a bit close. To their credit, they got over it and did their job,” he said.
“A good thing for us, we batted out our overs which is something we also want the boys to do. Then we came out and bowled them out for 117.”
Stephen was the best Bathurst bowler, taking 4-32 off the ball.
“At this age, if you pitch the ball up at the stump, you’re going to get a wicket sooner rather than later and that’s exactly what Cooper did,” Newton said.
A change to spin bowling proved vital in Bathurst’s narrow two-wicket win over Orange in Mitchell Cricket Council on Sunday.
Played at the Jack Brabham Park 1, Bathurst coach David Currie broke down his team’s bowling into three sessions of roughly 17 overs, with the last session proving to be key to his side’s success.
“Breaking to down to the three sessions of 17 overs, Orange were 1-52 after the first 17 and doing pretty well, scoring about three runs an over. I was hoping we would get more wickets in that session, but we didn’t,” he said.
“In the second session, they were 1-117, so they continued to score runs at a reasonable rate and we weren’t taking any wickets. We had a talk to the boys at the drinks break and said, ‘Unless you do something, they’re going to put on a big total, which is going to be hard to catch’.
“We brought on some spinners, Jonathan Nicholls, Ethan Comerford, Tom Siede and Jamie Bennett really changing the game. The Orange boys seemed to really like the pace coming at them, with the faster bowlers, particularly with the spin bowlers and Jamie Bennett’s medium pace out-swing proved a threat.
“We took about 7-31 in the last session, which sort of saved our bacon.
“It’s amazing how a change of strategy can change a game, like with the Melbourne Stars-Renegades.”
When it was Bathurst’s turn to bat, Charlie Harris and Tim Currie opened the batting, the two knocking 16 and 55 runs, a match high, respectively.
The runs started to slow down, further down the order, but Bathurst managed to run hitting the target of 8-149 with 10 balls to spare.
“The kids had a good day, which is the main thing,” Currie said.
“I would’ve liked to be a bit more convincing, but it was what it was. They responded when they needed to.”
Bathurst is now into the grand final on March 3, to be hosted by Blue Mountains.