by Matthew Elkerton
NIGHT CRICKET: After playing in three of the past four Cleaver's Mechanical Night Cricket finals without reward, Coutts Crossing finally lifted its curse under lights.
In the third consecutive night final between Coutts and Harwood, all-rounder Nick Wood (54 and 4 for 28 off 5) produced a match for the ages to help his club to its first open premiership with a 15-run win at McKittrick Park.
The steady all-rounder made the most of early luck, finding gaps in the field and pushing hard between the wickets on what was a tough deck for batting.
"It was a real low wicket, and it played a bit up and down throughout," Wood said. "It was hard to connect with the ball, there weren't very many coming out of the middle of the bat.
"But it was great to bat with Tilsey at the top. We lost a couple of early wickets, but he has done it for the club so many times and he was just calm and confident at the other end."
When Tim Tilse (42) was nabbed by Luke Many (2 for 37 off 5) just after drinks, the run rate appeared like it would take a tumble for Coutts but Bill North and Wood kept it steady before launching a late onslaught with Eli Fahey (10) to push the score to 6-158 from 30 overs.
"Woody batted exceptionally well, he was patient and controlled with a bit of luck," an elated North said. "I just tried to put up a picket fence and rotated the strike.
"We knew if we could keep the run rate up around five or six an over without missing out on too many runs, we were a real chance."
Coutts Crossing was without regular seamers Adam Elliott and Joel Gossen, but teenage firebrand Riley Chevalley (1 for 18 off 5) stepped up to the challenge in their absence.
"It was a bit of pressure on Riley's shoulders, but he did a great job keeping it tight at the top of the order," North said.
"The key was to slow the scoring early and put them in a bit of run-rate pressure so the way he started was pretty crucial," he said.
"He was another in a long line of juniors who have been great for us this season.
"We have had no less than eight juniors play night cricket this season. It is an asset to the club to have such depth and talent in the junior ranks."
It may have struggled at the start but it was a dogged Harwood side which refused to give up the game, with Brandon Honeybrook (51) and Ben McMahon (31) showing class in the middle stages with a 70-run stand.
But in fitting fashion, the final say fell to Coutts' match-winner.
Wood took the castle of both Honeybrook and McMahon before closing out the win with a tight spell of bowling, also nabbing Matt Young and Many cheaply.
"This has been a long time coming for us, it was a good feeling and a little bit of the monkey off the back," North said. "Hopefully this is the start of something special for the Coutts club."
CLEAVERS NIGHT COMPETITION
HARWOOD V COUTTS CROSSING
At McKittrick Park
Toss: Coutts Crossing
Umpires: Bruce Baxter, Jeff Hackett
Coutts Crossing 1st Innings
T Tilse c JT McMahon b Many 42
L Cox c Farrell b Durrant 1
B Cotten run out (BG McMahon) 4
R Cotten lbw b HJ Ensbey 8
N Wood b Many 54
B North run out 18
E Fahey not out 10
Extras (b 0, lb 6, w 11, nb 4) 21
SIX wickets for 158
FoW: 1-2(L Cox) 2-25(B Cotten) 3-49(R Cotten) 4-81(T Tilse) 5-142(N Wood) 6-158(B North)
Bowling: B Honeybrook 5-0-26-0, DD Durrant 5-0-22-1, HJ Ensbey 2-0-12-1, JT McMahon 5-0-22-0, L Many 5-0-37-2, J Ensbey 3-0-13-0, BG McMahon 5-0-20-0
Harwood 1st Innings
N Ensbey c L Chevalley b A McLachlan 19
D Mitchell b Z Page 5
MA Ensbey lbw b R Chevalley 6
BG McMahon b N Wood 32
B Honeybrook b N Wood 51
MN Young b N Wood 0
L Many b N Wood 3
MJ Farrell run out (L Cox, N Wood) 16
DD Durrant run out (L Cox, N Wood) 6
JT McMahon not out 0
Extras (b 1, lb 1, w 3, nb 0) 5
NINE wickets for 143
FoW: 1-14(D Mitchell) 2-21(N Ensbey) 3-43(MA Ensbey) 4-113(BG McMahon) 5-122(B Honeybrook) 6-122(MN Young) 7-123(L Many) 8-139(DD Durrant) 9-143(MJ Farrell)
Bowling: Z Page 5-0-21-1, RL Chevalley 5-0-18-1, E Fahey 5-0-35-0, A McLachlan 5-0-29-1, B North 5-0-10-0, N Wood 5-0-28-4