Thanks to man-of-the-match efforts from Dylan Caughlan and Shaun Churchill Orange City secured their second straight Orange District Cricket Association second grade title on the weekend, downing minor premiers Cavaliers to complete their run from third.
Caughlan was superb with the ball while Churchill produced a game-best score with the bat at Riawena Oval, the Warriors' running down Cavaliers' 160 with three wickets in the bank.
The entire first day was lost due to the wet outfield and, despite Cavaliers needing only a draw, Orange City skipper Adam Cowden still elected to bowl first, handing the new ball to Caughlan.
The rangy left-armer snared 3-42 and combined beautifully with fellow quick and best mate Harry Edwards (3-62), before Churchill anchored the Warriors' chase with a well-made 49.
Although Churchill was dismissed at a pretty crucial time, his wicket left the Warriors 6-93, Shaun Kirby (42 not out) and Nick Warburton (19 not out) added an unbeaten 59 for the eighth wicket to push the greens over the line.
"Dyl's the kind of guy that will do whatever a captain asks of him, if you tell him to run in and bowl 50 overs straight he'll do it for you. He and Harry did a great job, they're good blokes to have at your disposal," Cowden said.
"Churchy batted beautifully, he always does, and I'm happy to admit I did get a little bit nervous after he got out but it was good to see Kirby and a young kid like Warbo get us home.
"Kirby's terrible to watch in any situation, let alone that one. He hits the ball in the air and I imagine opposition sides always think he's about to get out, but he did well."
Cowden actually reserved special praise for Warburton, considering he shone with the bat.
The youngster returned from stress fractures in his back this summer and is still unable to bowl, but produced with willow in hand more than once in the clutch.
"He got us home in the preliminary final against Centrals too," Cowden said, Warburton's 46 in the second innings of that game proved a match-saving dig.
"For a kid who was, or still is, a quick with plenty of promise to stand up under pressure and get the job done with the bat more than once is great to see, it was a pretty proud moment for all us watching him hit the winning runs on Sunday."
While Orange City didn't enjoy their typical second grade dominance this summer Cowden said the belief was always there among his troops, the Warriors making their 13th consecutive grand final appearance.
"In the past we've always had the best team on paper, I still think we did again this year. If it was paper cricket we'd win every season," Cowden, in his first season as skipper, laughed.
"There was times we didn't play our best cricket but the belief was always there we just had to put it together."
The Warriors' skipper said he had no hesitation in sending Cavaliers in, despite giving them the chance to bat the entire day and end the greens' title hopes as a result.
"I didn't give it a second thought, we had to bowl them out and win regardless so I was hoping to get that done reasonably quickly then know what we had to chase," Cowden explained.
The greens needed just 35 of the 108 available overs to bowl the maroons out, and in fact it looked like that might happen a lot quicker after they slumped to 8-100, with only Steve Nean (24) and Stu Middleton (37) making inroads until then.
Joel Thomas (37) and Alex Wiegold (24) produced a vital, 51-run ninth wicket stand though to push their side to a competitive total.
"They batted really, really well actually. They got away from us a bit," Cowden said.
Orange City lost Dave Boundy (0) and Pat Giuffre (1) early to be in trouble at 2-6, but Troy O'Keeffe (32) and Churchill steadied the ship, pushing the score to 71.
The latter was dismissed then though and so was Brant Mann (0), before Cowden (8), Churchill and Mick Evans (7) were sent packing as well. The Warriors lost 5-31 and sat at 7-102, before Kirby and Warburton's heroics.
AT A GLANCE ...
ORANGE CITY 7-161 def CAVALIERS 160 by three wickets
ORANGE CITY: Shaun Churchill 49, Shaun Kirby 42 not out, Troy O'Keeffe 32; Dylan Caughlan 3-42, Harry Edwards 3-63, Pav Melnichuk 2-12
CAVALIERS: Stu Middleton 37, Joel Thomas 37, Alex Wiegold 24; Mark Wiegold 2-6, Kobe Mansell 2-20, Middleton 2-21
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