STONEYFORD cricketers have ended Apollo Bay’s finals campaign and booked a spot in their third straight Division One grand final.
The Maroon Caps will take on City United in this weekend’s decider, after City upstaged the minor premier Stoneyford in the qualifying semi-final a fortnight ago.
Stoneyford captain Levi Dare said the club was rapt to reach another grand final, while its Division Three side is also in the grand final.
“To make three grand finals in a row is a fantastic effort for the club,” he said.
“It’s a credit to our junior program, which has contributed to the longevity of our success so hopefully that continues for a few years because guys like Dom Dare, Jack Sherman, Jesse Williamson and James Beasley are all under 21.”
But Dare said his team’s 12-run preliminary final win against Apollo Bay did not come easily.
After electing to bat first, Stoneyford lost star batsmen Levi and his brother Dom Dare for just six runs each.
But Joe Dare, 51 runs, and Jesse Williamson, 38, dug in to push the total out to almost triple digits.
“It was a very tight game, both sides were in great control at different times,” Levi Dare said.
“They got myself and Dom out early but Joe and Jesse got us out to 2-97 at drinks, and I’d take that any day of the week,” he said.
Apollo Bay’s Jack Pascoe, who took 5-28, tore through Stoneyford’s middle order to have the Maroon Caps in trouble at 7-115.
But veteran Michael Rafaniello, 23 runs, and youngster Cameron Lee put on a late partnership to push the total out to 163.
“I thought 150 was the minimum we would have needed because the ground was pretty wet and slow,” Dare said.
“But the good thing was we bowled and fielded really well, we dropped two sitters from Matt Hanks twice and he was their top scorer, but apart from that everything was good,” he said.
Hanks finished with 40 runs while all-rounder Jacob McKenzie made an unbeaten 27 for the Sharks, who fell 12 runs short in their reply.