Greta/Branxton first grade number three batsman Barry Richards became the first top grade player this season to score a century to complete the final round of district cricket last Saturday.
The 34-year-old came to Greta/Branxton from Sawtell in 2010 and, after scoring a second grade ton back then, notched his maiden century in the top grade.
Richards came in at the fall of the first wicket against Bellbird at Carmichael Park and never gave a chance as he blasted nine boundaries and four maximums to bring up his ton on the first ball of the final over of the 40-over contest. He remained unbeaten on 101 in a superb innings to set up a massive first innings total for his side.
Greta/Branxton’s 126-run victory plus wins in all lower grades was plenty enough to secure their second consecutive club championship.
For Bellbird, further salt was rubbed into their wounds as the big loss was enough to lower their quotient below Mulbring who finished on equal points, hence handing the Marlins the first grade minor premiership.
The two sides square of again this week in the the 2 v 3 semi-final.
Across the city at Baddeley Park there was also plenty to play for between Wine Country and Supporters Club who on equal points were playing off for fourth spot.
The low scoring affair was a cliffhanger, with Wine Country winning by just four runs to hand the Goannas the dreaded wooden spoon.
Wine Country skipper Stephen Hedger won the toss and batted, and after being 8-88 the Wood Ducks scrambled to finish with a defendable 8-134. Luke Jeans led the way at the top of the order with 33, Matt Lightfoot made 28, while tail-enders Matt Harrison (24no) and Rob Sidebottom (22no) shared in a crucial 46-run ninth wicket stand. Paul Wright was easily the best of the Supporters attack with 5-30 off 10.
The match hung in the balance for the entire run chase. With 14-runs to win and only one wicket in hand a Lightfoot no-ball resulted in the free hit ball being whacked straight down the ground for maximum by Dale Arnold. It then looked like Supporters held the upper hand until Arnold was trapped in front LBW by Dave Farrell, which sent the Wood Ducks into a mid-pitch celebration like they had just won the grand final.
Alan Heath back in the top grade took 3-30 off 10 with the new ball, Farrell also finished with a treble (3-19 off 8.5).
The win broke a 13-year drought for the Wood Duck who have not featuring in a semi-final since 2002-03. They will take on minor premiers Mulbring at Mulbring Oval.
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