A stunning individual performance from reigning Carl Sharpe Medal winner Ryan Gurney inspired his Centennials Bulls to a crucial Royal Hotel Cup win over Orange City on Wednesday night, one which all but secures the Bathurst side third place and effectively ends the Warriors’ campaign.
Gurney had been quiet since his move from Lithgow to the Bathurst-based Bulls but found similar form with the bat to that which catapulted him to last year’s MVP award but, somewhat unexpectedly, on Wednesday night he produced game-changing moments with the ball and in the field.
Gurney belted 37 of the Bulls’ 7-143, combining with top-scorer Mick Curtale (59) in a 75-run second wicket stand, before snuffing out Orange City’s hopes of chasing successfully by tearing through the Warriors’ middle and lower orders.
With Orange City sitting at 4-74 and only needing eight an over for the last seven Gurney produced a phenomenal, direct-hit run out to send Craig Rogan (8) packing and swing the momentum of the game.
Shaun Grenfell (13) and Darren Barrett (24) mounted a small fightback before the former was run out with the score at 108, and Gurney once again seized the moment and produced a double-wicket set to leave the Warriors reeling at 8-109.
He picked up another scalp two overs later as well to finish with 3-21 and help restrict Orange City to 9-131.
“I didn’t actually know he bowled until a Saturday a few weeks ago, we needed someone to get a few overs out of and I thought I’d give Ryan a crack,” Centennials skipper Andrew Brown laughed.
“I do think the run out was probably the game-changer though, both batsmen were starting to get set at that point.
“Ryan was very good and that win was really good for us.”
Centennials just need to beat the winless Kinross when they back up on Friday night to secure third spot and a semi-final showdown with Lithgow.
On the flip side, the Warriors need the students to absolutely hammer the Bulls to avoid missing the finals for the first time since the competition changed to the shortest format.
“We actually thought Orange City would sneak into the four anyway, but I had a look and they just miss out,” Brown said, with Bathurst City edging out the Warriors by 0.019 on net run rate.
“I guess we’ll just focus on beating Kinross now and wrapping up third spot.”
That semi-final, if the Bulls beat Kinross as expected, will be against the undefeated Lithgow, the only side to defeat Centennials so far this summer.
That win came in a rain-affected game that Centennials “didn't get a chance in” thanks to the showers, as Bulls gun Josh Toole said.
But revenge isn’t a motivating factor, Brown said.
“We’d have to beat them to win it anyway I think and we’d just rather finish third so we get to play our semi-final on the Wednesday (February 21), we’d have players out if it was the Friday,” he explained.
“We’ve definitely got a side capable of winning it and that has been in the back of our minds, we haven’t focused on it too much though.”
Centennials face Kinross from 6.30pm at Wade Park on Friday night.