Bellbird beat Valley to claim inaugural Coalfields Cup

Champions: The inaugural Coalfields Cup premiers Bellbird. Picture: Hunter River Times
Champions: The inaugural Coalfields Cup premiers Bellbird. Picture: Hunter River Times

Bellbird are the inaugural Coalfields Cup Cricket competition champions after defeating Valley in the final played at Branxton's Miller Park last Sunday.

The cup made its way to the western suburbs of Cessnock for the first time after the Tigers disposed of the Singleton heavyweights by 101 runs in a lop-sided affair.

"This feels pretty special being the first club to ever win the competition," Bellbird skipper Rob Drage said after the win. "We have a young side and we have gained some momentum off some good performances."

Valley skipper Jacob Carey won the toss, and with a little moisture in the deck after a week of rain he asked Bellbird to have a bat first.

The minor premiers lost competition leading run-scorer Jason Orr in the very first over, but a fighting 76-run second wicket stand between fellow opener Joey Barber (63) and Ben Fairlie (29) got the innings back on track.

At the drinks interval they were 1-72, and they continued to accumulate at a productive rate to eventually close their innings at a competitive 9-170.

Matt Schrieber (23) and Drage (16) were the other main contributors.

Tristan Muir (3-43 off 10) and Brendan Nichols (2-33 off 10) were the pick of the Valley attack.

Valley, who were the only club to defeat Bellbird throughout the competition, saved their worst batting performance of the tournament for the big day.

They were dismissed inside 26 overs for just 69, with Nichols (27), Tully Winsor (14) and Nathan Bagnall (11) the only willowmen to reach double figures.

Barber completed a man-of-the-match performance for the Tigers with 4-23 off 8 to add to his fine half-century earlier in the day. Billy Orr supported well with 3-16 off 5.

"It was always tough when you lose your best batsman in the opening over but the way Benny (Fairlie) and Joey batted today proved it was about accumulating the score. One hundred and seventy felt like 200 today. As for the bowling, the stats speak for themselves," Drage said in his victory speech.

On a brighter note for the Valley club, tournament instigator Daniel Storey reached a rare milestone by playing his 300th game for the club.

Bellbird's Jason Orr was named player of the tournament after scoring two centuries and two half centuries on the way to amassing 423 runs at an average of 70.50.