A grand final with a grand conclusion.
Orange City claimed a thrilling two-wicket triumph over St Pat's Old Boys in the Bathurst Orange Inter District Cricket association decider at the Sportsground last weekend, thanks to an inspirational, backs-to-the-wall ninth-wicket partnership.
The visitors edged past the Saints' 193 in the dying stages of Sunday's second day, guided by a gritty, unbeaten 28 from player-of-the-game and wicketkeeper-bat Troy O'Keeffe, who survived 119 balls to get his side home.
He and young, gun quick Harry McGregor added a match-winning 30 for the ninth wicket after Orange City lost 4-8 the middle order, with McGregor dialling in defensively to support his glovemen with an unbeaten 1 from 48 balls.
It's the fourth successive top grade premiership for Orange City when including their 2017-18 and 2018-19 titles in the Orange District Cricket Association.
"That was a gutsy win. Games like that are not so much about how good you are but how much heart you've got, and my boys showed a lot of that, but so too did Pat's," City captain Ed Morrish said.
Morrish's wicket sparked the quick collapse in City's middle order and he was left watching on nervously as his lower order managed to produce something special.
"If you watched me over there when that was happening you would have seen that I needed a new pair of shoes because I was doing a lot of pacing," he laughed.
"People doubted us because last year we were given the title due to COVID, so we wanted to go out and prove that we were that team."
Making the victory all the sweeter for Morrish was the fact his Warriors claimed the win with what most would consider an understrength side, with Dave Boundy (broken arm), Lachlan Coyte (unavailable), Jaymes Thomas (unavailable) and Ben Findlay (torn achilles) all ruled out.
Incredibly, all but Boundy had taken the gloves throughout 2020-21, with O'Keeffe at least the fourth gloveman to have played in the Warriors' top grade.
"But that was incredible. We've had a lot of ins and outs with this team due to injuries or unavailabilities so for the blokes to come in and do the job is the most pleasing thing as a captain," Morrish beamed.
For Saints captain Adam Ryan it was at least a game worthy of the 'grand final' billing.
"It was a ripper game. They're the grand finals you dream about being a part of. You dream about being on the other side of it but I'm so proud of the efforts from everyone - today and throughout the season," he said.
"They've all been faultless in their commitment to the club and the cause this year."
Saints were in serious danger in their innings on Saturday before Cooper Brien (29), Hamish Siegert (46) and Josh Wilcox (45) added more than 100 runs over the space of two partnerships.
Derryn Clayton (24) also added valuable late runs for the Saints.
McGregor led the way with the ball for City with his 3-42.
In response, Ben Schofield (31) and top scorer Blake Weymouth (48) pushed the visitors past the 100 mark at the loss of just two wickets.
Shaun Grenfell (27) continued to inject some spark into the City chase before he formed part of Orange's four-wicket collapse.
O'Keeffe and McGregor each survived a scare when they were nearly caught, and their nervous chase was prolonged further by a drinks break with 10 runs to get.
But there was no need to fear as the pair etched their names into the City history books with a partnership to remember.
Three Pat's bowlers finished with two wickets, with the best of them being Angus Parsons (2-21).
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...