Deni Rhinos’ Under 14s side are premiers following a thrilling one wicket win over Katunga in the Murray Valley Cricket Association grand final at Memorial Park on Sunday.
It was a massive win for the Rhinos, with the 2017/18 season being the club’s first in the Under 14s competition.
Tom Bradley was declared man of the match, following his all important 13 run stint while taking 2/11 from his four overs with the ball.
Under 14s coach Anthony Bradley said it was a long journey to get to this premiership.
‘‘Five years ago we didn’t even have any junior cricket,’’ he said.
‘‘Now we have a team together winning a flag in their first year.
‘‘The win has already helped keep kids interested in cricket.
‘‘We’ve had a few that came down to watch say they want to play next season.
‘‘There was a huge crowd at the game, too and it was just awesome.
‘‘Katunga also had a lot of support so it made for a fantastic atmosphere.’’
Chasing a total of 54 runs the Rhinos looked as though they would be comfortable winners, with an opening partnership of 23 between Kai Hiller (nine) and Lachy Holloway (12) before a mini-collapse saw the Rhinos fall to 3/32.
Tom Bradley found himself at the crease with the task of settling things for the Rhinos, but the wickets continued to fall around him, with the Rhinos 7/49 and just six runs from victory.
Luke Rodda joined Tom in the middle, with the pair pushing the score to 53 runs.
With the ball hit in the outfield the pair pushed for two runs to secure victory, only for Tom (13) to be run out and leaving the Rhinos needing two runs with two wickets in hand.
A single from Dom Rogers drew the home side level with the Swans before Rodda (two) was caught out the following ball.
Ryan Rotherham came to the crease with the Rhinos needing just one run to win.
It took just one ball for Ryan to secure the shield, picking up two runs despite only needing one to claim victory.
‘‘We were confident chasing the total and Lachy (Holloway) and Kai (Hillier) got us off to a fantastic start,’’ he said.
‘‘We were 3/35 at tea before we lost three quick wickets.
‘‘Tom was hitting boundaries but we just couldn’t get him on strike as the wickets kept falling.
‘‘Once the bigger kids from Katunga had all bowled their maximum amount of overs we felt that we could win.’’
Anthony Bradley said that despite the small target, things didn’t go as smoothly as it seemed with the ball in hand.
‘‘We didn’t bowl well to start off with,’’ he said.
‘‘Katunga scored 19 runs in the first seven overs so we thought we’d be chasing 80 runs at least.
‘‘We knew they had five or six bigger kids that were able to score well with the bat and that if we could get them out then we would be able to knock over the rest of the batting order.
‘‘We took a couple of wickets but it was when Tom (Bradley) managed to take the important wicket of Dylan Baker (20) that we knew we could reduce the total.
‘‘Tom bowled an accidental bouncer with the ball catching Dylan by surprise, edging it back down onto his stumps to have them at 5/37.
‘‘Luckily we managed to knock them over relatively quickly after that.’’
It was a tremendous team effort with each bowler taking a wicket.
Charlie Hillier finished with impressive figures of 2/10 off six with Ryan Rotherham (2/13 off four), Noah Bradley (2/2 off one), Kai Hillier (1/9 off four) and Lachie Holloway (1/4 off four) the other wicket takers.
‘‘We only just got there, but you always remember a win after losing nine wickets more than you would a nine-wicket win,’’ Bradley said.