IT was the final most were expecting, but not the close contest they would have predicted.
The Mitchell T20 Cup is back in Bathurst's hands after they hammered Orange by 52 runs in Sunday's final at Morse Park 1.
Bathurst were relentless in the field, cutting down every Orange top and middle order partnership before it could gain the slightest bit of traction.
They had Orange reeling at 7-28 in their pursuit of 128 runs and, despite some late highlights from Angus Le Lievre (35), there was to be no miracle comeback.
Dave Sellers followed up his 25 not out from the semi-final win against Lithgow earlier in the day with another top score of 52 in the decider while Matt Stephen (3-24) was the leading wicket taker in the final.
Stephen picked up the huge wickets of Lachie Coyte and Matt Corben in successive deliveries to spark an unprecedented Orange collapse of 6-18.
The win brings Bathurst back level with Orange in the T20 title tally, with each association now boasting two wins in the Mitchell tournament.
Bathurst skipper Adam Ryan said it was a fantastic feeling to right the wrong of the team's performance from last season's edition of the T20 event.
"The attitude and commitment of the players was great today. We were taught a lesson last year that you can never let your guard down at this representative level," he said.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more from the boys with the way they played today. It was gutsy and there's a few wounded guys walking around, but that's a big part of Bathurst cricket. It's about playing with heart and turning up for each other."
Orange skipper Ed Morrish said the collapse left the team in a massive hole it couldn't dig its way out of.
We didn't apply ourselves with the bat ... but over the two games I thought we bowled and fielded really well. The talent's there, it's just about the application.Orange skipper Ed Morrish
"It's too hard to come back when you lose early wickets, and they were consistent wickets too," he said.
"We didn't apply ourselves with the bat ... but over the two games I thought we bowled and fielded really well. The talent's there, it's just about the application.
"Bathurst bowled really well but we needed that application with the bat if we wanted to chase it down."
Sellers got going quickly in the final with early boundaries four Mark Maybin scalps (4-17) helped put the brakes on the Bathurst run rate.
Sellers' dismissal took the wind out of Bathurst's sails and no batsman at five or lower would reach double figures, but it was still far better than the chase, which got off to a nightmare start and never recovered.
Kaleb Cook (0), fresh off a Bathurst Orange Inter District Cricket century the day before, lasted just three deliveries as he was trapped in front of his wicket by Mitch Taylor.
Then the big double came in Stephen's second over of the day.
Coyte (8) was caught by Dave Henderson at first slip before Corben was caught by Bathurst's other man in the slips cordon, Connor Slattery, when he walked down the wicket on his first ball.
They would lose six wickets in the space of eight overs.
Remaining opener Max Powell (4) was castled by Taylor and Fletcher Rose (10) gave Stephen his third wicket as the Bathurst bowled latched onto a ball sent spiralling into the heavens.
Henderson wasn't just making contributions in the field, he was doing it with the ball.
In the first delivery of his innings he sent Hugh Middleton (0) packing as the bails went flying, then completed a wicket maiden by having Morrish (0) caught by Ben Parsons at gully.
Even at seven wickets down it was still a realistic, if ambitious, required run rate of 7.7 for Orange.
Angus Le Lievre tried his best to keep that rate down with a wide range of strokes across the ground while George Cumming (9) kept watch at the other end.
Some Ekert magic in the field broke the partnership at 25 when underarm flick at the bowlers' stumps caught Cumming short of the mark.
Le Lievre was joined by brother Hugh at the crease but their time together lasted even less, just 20 runs, when the latter was cleaned bowled taking on Jameel Qureshi.
Angus Le Lievre's entertaining knock was eventually stopped when he lofted a shot off Qureshi's bowling to Ekert.
There had been uncertainty among the Bathurst camp about whether their 128 would be enough to win against a quality Orange squad but after an amazing day in the field they got their answer.
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