ORANGE’S Western Zone Premier League and President’s Cup campaigns came to end yesterday at the hands of Mudgee.
The two sides squared off at Wade Park in the final round of the WZPL which, more importantly, doubled as a semi-final for the President’s Cup.
The equation for both teams was simple - win, and earn a place in the final in a fortnight.
Despite a valiant flurry of strokeplay at the end of the Bluebags’ chase, Orange fell 51 runs short.
After winning the toss and batting first, the Mudgee batsmen worked their way 6-239 from 50 overs.
Mudgee’s top five all made starts in the victory as Hayden Cox starred with a boundary-laden 49.
Troy Kenny (25) and Michael Ford (39) got the visitors off to a good start with a 70-run opening stand, before Cox, Harry Ottley (31) and Western Zone colts skipper Stu Fredricks (33) kept the scoreboard ticking over to set a defendable target.
Orange’s chase started badly as Charles Litchfield (1) ran himself out in the first over.
John Warrington (34) and Matt Baker (30) sparked somewhat of a resurgence, but regular wickets left the Bluebags languishing at 6-121. Orange then lost two more wickets without troubling the scorers, bringing Max Dodds (31) and Chris Novak (32 not out) together.
The pair put on 63 for the ninth wicket, but all was in vain as Dodds was run out with five overs to go, before Ed Morrish (0) was dismissed to bring the innings, and Orange’s season, to a close.
Mudgee captain Jacob Edmonds was full of praise for both his team, and Orange.
“We both have young sides, and in both team’s cases those young blokes stood up and did well, as they have to,” Edmonds explained.
“For us, it was just a great team effort.
“The boys really put pressure on with both bat and ball, and we came away with the win.”
Mudgee’s win sets up an intriguing President’s Cup final with Bathurst, after the latter defeated the Blue Mountains yesterday.
“Like with any other game, we’ll go in confident,” Edmonds said.
Orange coach Steve Ryan said his troops still have plenty to celebrate this season.
“We still had our most successful year in a while,” Ryan said, referring to Orange’s two victories, over Bathurst and Cowra.
“We gelled well as a unit, and had guys sticking their hands up wanting to play for Orange again. Along with the few more experienced guys still around we have a good squad that can move forward in the next couple of seasons.
“Unfortunately, losing wickets in bunches cost us today, but credit to Mudgee, they were too good.”