Parramatta will play Sydney University in the Grand Final of the First Grade Limited-Overs Cup at Old Kings Oval after each team won their respective semi-finals on Sunday.
In McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket, Hawkesbury all-rounder Josh Clarke (188 not out) became the fifth player to pass 1,000 runs in consecutive seasons on Saturday, which saw Campbelltown-Camden also go back to the top of the table equal with Parramatta.
Wicketkeeper-batsman and Parramatta captain Nick Bertus (89 not out), and William Affleck (66 not out), guided Parramatta to an eight-wicket win over Eastern Suburbs in their limited overs semi-final, while Sydney University was too strong for Bankstown, winning by 39 runs to book its spot in the big finale. Damien Mortimer (91) and Tim Ley (4-42) were the star performers for the students.
Parramatta qualified for the finals in second position on the competition table, and as a result, earnt home ground advantage for the deciding match.
Sydney University finished the qualifying rounds in fifth place. The Grand Final will be played on 4 March.
It was an emphatic performance by Parramatta over a strong Eastern Suburbs outfit captained by New South Wales’ Blues top-order batsman Nic Maddinson.
Parramatta got off to the perfect start when Jack White claimed the wicket of Maddinson (1) and Eastern Suburbs were immediately on the back foot at Old Kings Oval.
The Dolphins just couldn’t put together any substantial partnerships throughout their innings.
Easts’ top-scorer Ian Moran (52) featured in the two best partnerships the visitors could manage. Both 36-run stands were with Adam Ezekiel (35) and Greg Clarence (16).
White (3-27) and Ben Martin (3-39) were key with the ball for Parramatta and were well supported by opening bowler Scott Copperfield (2-36).
The hosts found themselves in a spot of early trouble when Ben Abbott (7) was bowled by Tas Yazdani (1-25), which was shortly followed by a good piece of fielding from Yazdani to run out Tim Ward (7). It left Parramatta at 2-21.
That wicket brought Bertus to the crease and from that point on the home side cruised to victory.
An unbeaten partnership of 148 between Affleck and Bertus sealed a place in the Grand Final for Parramatta.
The other semi-final was somewhat tighter at Bankstown Oval between the Bulldogs and Sydney University.
The students batted first and posted 289 from their allocated 50 overs. Damien Mortimer continued his very solid season to date with 91 from 112 balls at No. 3. He now has 863 runs at 47.9 across all forms this season.
Hayden Kerr got the innings off to a fast start. He made 78 from 72 balls. Together with Mortimer the positive approach provided the basis for the Sydney University total. Mitch Brown (2-42) was best of the Bankstown bowlers.
In reply, Bankstown put themselves in a good position at 1-134, but the dismissal of Brendan Smith (59) caused a mini-collapse.
The Bulldogs lost 4/12 within the space of a matter of overs including the wicket of leading run-scorer in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket, Daniel Solway (53), who looked to be building another great score.
The wicket of Jake Cormack (55), with the score on 226, stopped all momentum Bankstown may have regained. Bankstown lost 5-24 to be bowled out for 250 in the 48th over.
Tim Ley was the prime destroyer for the students. He claimed 4-42 from nine overs and was well supported by Hayden Kerr (3-31) and Liam Robertson (2-42).
McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket
Sydney Thunder Academy player Josh Clarke produced the highest score of his career on Saturday for Hawkesbury against Sutherland and joined many of New South Wales’ best batsmen to pass 1,000 runs in back-to-back seasons.
He joined Bill Alley in 1942-43 and 1943-44, Graeme Rummans in 2007-08 and 2008-09, Greg Mail in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Philip Wells in 2014-15 and 2015-16, as the only other men to achieve the feat.
It was the 12th century of his career and took him to 1,017 runs for the season at 63.56. He was the leading run-scorer in the competition last season with 1,253 runs at 69.61.
Clarke was in imperious form at Owen Earle Oval, as he carried his team to an upset victory.
His immense innings of 188 not out from 233 balls included 15 fours and two sixes. His opening partnership with next best scorer Jaskaran Cheema (57) of 119 provided the firm footing for the successful chase to seal first innings points.
At the dismissal of Cheema, Clarke single-handedly guided his team to victory from that point on. Hawkesbury reached the winning target in the 84th over and finished 4/320.
Australian Under 19 World Cup player Austin Waugh returned best figures for Sutherland. He claimed 2-56 from 14 overs.
Campbelltown-Camden wicketkeeper-batsman Oliver Pope scored his second century in successive matches to cap off a complete all-round match for the man from Surrey and guide his team to a convincing first innings win over Bankstown.
He took an incredible five catches in the Bankstown first innings and scored 128 from 155 balls in the second innings run chase.
This was only the third time in the history of the Sydney First Grade competition that a player had taken five catches and scored a century in the one match. Rod Bower (1990-91) and Andrew Sainsbury (1998-99) were the only other two men to achieve such a double in the same game.
It was Pope’s third century of the season and included 15 fours and the solitary six.
His performance played a pivotal role in the win that took the Ghosts back to first position on the ladder.
A solid knock by Jaydyn Simmons (67 not out) provided Pope with good assistance. The pair consolidated and then steered the Ghosts to victory with a 172-run stand. It recovered the Campbelltown-Camden innings from 3/64 early on.
Kyle Brockley was best of the bowlers for the Bulldogs. He collected 2-51.
Penrith bowler Trent Weir became the first player born in the 21st century to take five wickets in an innings in his team’s win over Western Suburbs at Howell Oval.
In his debut First Grade match, the 17-year-old claimed 5-58 from an enormous 30.2 overs, as Penrith bowled out Wests for 218 in defence of 9/269.
Ryan Smith (3-39) was also good for the hosts and NSW Blues’ batsman Ryan Gibson showed his class in the field snaring three catches. Top score for Western Suburbs belonged to opener Isaac Taylor (50).
Randwick Petersham batsman Matthew Everett (124) also scored his maiden First Grade century in a tight two-wicket first innings win for his team over St George.
All-rounder and Saints’ captain Nick Stapleton claimed 4-64 on the losing side of the ledger.
Anjan Oberai was another batsman to score a massive century for North Sydney against Fairfield-Liverpool.
His 184 not out from 233 balls was a lone hand for the Bears in getting over the line against Fairfield-Liverpool. The knock was 145 runs better than any of the other six North Sydney batsman to visit the crease. The hosts chased down the 282 to win within 78 overs and finished 4/286.
It was his second First Grade century. His previous hundred at the top level was also large. He scored 166 not out against Manly-Warringah last season.
Blues rookie quick Liam Hatcher took 2-69 for Fairfield-Liverpool in what was its eighth loss of the season all but eliminating its finals hopes.
Scott Rodgie completed an excellent all-round performance for Mosman against Gordon with the ball, but it wasn’t enough for victory as his team went down narrowly at Chatswood Oval.
His figures of 4-87, combined with 126 in the first innings, were both overshadowed by the two-wicket win to Gordon. A number of batsmen made contributions for the hosts to reach the victory target of 379.
Cameron Eccles (78), Elliot Richtor (77 not out), Harry Evans (70) and Axel Cahlin (60) all made half-centuries in the win.
In other matches, the honours were shared between traditional rivals UNSW 319 (N Selman 131, T Ley 4-50, Cummins four catches) and Sydney University 9/289 (H Kerr 62, D Mortimer 55, JM Bennett 5-69).
Parramatta 7/304 (L Dempsey 79, W Affleck 39, S Copperfield 38 not out, A Beadle 2-34) defeated Manly-Warringah 9/303 dec. (A Beadle 60, L Dempsey 3-46), Blacktown 6/220 (J Fawcett 59, D Nicotra 46, RR Pawson 4-87) also posted its second win of the season at Mark Taylor Oval in reply to Northern District 218 (JR Pattison 55, R Hadley 4-56), and Sydney 291 (BA Manenti 83, MJ Rodgers 64, DL Smith 63, J Preddey 4-59, I Moran 3-30) were convincingly defeated by Eastern Suburbs 7/369 dec. (AJ Robson 156 not out, ND Bills 3-65).