The Manning River District Cricket Association Tier 1 competition for 2021-22 has been won by Taree United.
They defeated defending premiers Great Lakes at Tuncurry Oval in an encounter worthy of grand final status.
United skipper Tom Burley won the toss and asked his opposing captain Ryan Clark to bat, on a well prepared wicket.
In just the second over, Burley forced a delivery through Sheather's defence to see the bails fall, drawing first blood to United. This setback stifled Great Lakes' batting and at drinks following 20 overs they were 2-42.
Every United bowler answered Burley's plea and maintained a strict line and length. Pressure mounted, however Hull and Ryan Clark were the batsmen to respond. The former compiled a neat 30, falling to the spin of Campbell.
Two more quick wickets saw Lakes precarious at 6-80. United failed to take another wicket and the final seven overs produced 44 valuable runs by the Clarks, Ryan and Blake, 30 and 29 respectively.
Their total was a moderate 6-124 off 40 overs, however the runs were on the board. Interestingly, the only boundary of the innings was a six in the final over.
For United, Burley claimed 2-13 while Witts, Meldrum, Campbell and Weeks snared one apiece.
The game came alive in United's second over when Weeks attempted a smashing square cut. Result, caught at point!
Collier and McCartney combined in a frenetic partnership of 50 and when the latter was dismissed Sheather then claimed Burley in the same over. One run later Meldrum returned to the dressing rooms and United supporters had furrowed brows. Campbell stayed briefly and Great Lakes were cock-a-hoop.
United was on a precipice at 5-68.
As he has been all season, the dependable Matt Collier was rock solid and, with Josh Ferris, their valuable partnership guided the side towards the required total of 125. Ferris departed with 20 still required. However, incoming batsman Sam Couch would not be denied and with Collier, their wickets remained intact, Collier compiling a chance-free 52.
The run-chase was complete amid jubilation from team mates and supporters. Taree United had regained possession of the shield.
Sheather bowled with most success for Great Lakes to capture 4-33 while the remaining wicket takers were Bestwick, Blake Clark and Dean Elliott.
Although COVID and the weather played havoc with the season calendar, it was a memorable grand final. Furthermore, the pitch and playing surface was a credit to the curator.
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