ORANGE has scraped through to the preliminary final of the Mitchell Cricket Council colts competition following a two-wicket minor semi-final win over Mudgee yesterday at Riawena Oval.
Chasing the visitors total of all-out-for 167, Orange skipper Hamish Finalyson (eight not out) and tail-ender Jonno Warren (four not out) were left to hit the winning runs as the hosts limped to 8-171 and the two-wicket victory.
Orange, the defending champions, will now travel to the foot of the mountains to tackle Lithgow after the competition’s second seed fell to the form MCC colts side, Bathurst, in the major semi-final yesterday.
It’s a win Orange desperately needed.
Just a fortnight ago Lithgow stunned Orange to win by four runs at Wade Park.
Chasing just 139 against Lithgow, Orange lost its last five wickets for just 22 runs to lose and relinquish its top-two place to Lithgow on the ladder.
In many ways, yesterday’s match against Mudgee tossed up similar scenarios.
At 5-109 and needing a further 59 runs to win, groundhog day loomed.
This time, though, the home side rose to the occasion and won the big moments with the likes of James Ryan (45) and Liam Gough, the side’s two most experienced representative players, stepping up to be counted on the big stage.
Gough took 4-32 with the ball and dug in to hit 34 coming in a 6-112 to help guide Orange home.
Orange co-coach Steve Warrington was thrilled with his team in the must-win clash with Mudgee.
“I suppose the pleasing thing is we’re building to something. We’re starting to click,” Warrington said.
“We bowled well and the fielding was excellent. Liam was the stand-out and young Bristow bowled really well on debut, but as a whole the team performed exceptionally well. The team effort was the most pleasing aspect.”
The bat may have gotten them there, but by and large, the win was set up with the ball.
Gough’s 10 overs netted him 4-32 while Tom Bristow’s first spell for Orange brought about the tidy figures of 1-23 off 10.
Adam Cowden picked up 2-20 while Warren, Ed Morrish and Finlayson picked up a wicket each in a balanced effort.
Warrington said his side’s improvement in building partnerships with the bat was tested against Mudgee, however, he believes Orange’s under 21s showed enough fight in snatching the two-wicket victory to ensure a repeat of the Lithgow loss wasn’t on the cards.
“We realise we probably took Lithgow a little lightly last time,” he said.
“I suppose it’s a bit like Mudgee. We know we’re capable of beating Mudgee and we know we’re capable of beating Lithgow, it’s just a matter of turning up with the right mentality.”