The intensity was high at Victoria Park No 2 on Saturday afternoon as Rugby defeated RSL-Colts in the final round of the regular RSL-Whitney Cup season.
Both teams had a lot to play for as Rugby looked to wrap up the minor premiership and a much-needed weekend off, while Colts needed a win to keep their season alive.
It wasn’t to be, with Colts knocked over 47 runs short of victory.
Aidan Bennewith, whose 68-run haul helped Rugby establish its winning margin on the first day of the game, said it was satisfying to win a game that had its fair share of ups and downs.
“It felt like a grand final out there, just in the intensity of the game all the way through so it was good to get the win in the end,” he said.
Rugby’s bowlers got off to a strong start, with Jacob Bruce stepping up to open the bowling alongside Jacob Hill while James O’Brian was rested.
Wes Giddings (25) was the best of RSL-Colts’ top four, with Darrel Williams (13), Matt Keenan (7) and Brad Cox (6) all failing to get settled.
But after the first drinks break Greg Buckley and Chris Morton were seeing the ball extremely well, and slogged the ball for much of the second session.
By the time Ben Taylor (3/64) bowled Morton (73) just after the second drinks break, their fifth wicket partnership was worth 161 runs.
Buckley (116) brought up his century, but couldn’t inspire the tail to wag and Colts were seen off for 287.
It was the second time Rugby had got the better of Colts in as many days, with Rugby’s Liberty OneSteelers claiming the McDonald’s Megahit silverware over the Bob Berry Blasters in Friday’s grand final.
“It’s been a really good vibe going on in the camp all year … and I think we’re showing that on the cricket field,” Bennewith said.
“We had a plan at the start of the week to win the night comp and then we did what we needed to do on Saturday. Colts batted really well but just a few too many runs to chase down.
Rugby will now enjoy the weekend off before facing the winner of Souths and Macquarie in the grand final.
Bennewith said the break “couldn’t have come at a better time”, with star all-rounder Ben Patterson nursing a side strain and O’Brien and Bennewith himself playing through groin injuries.
“The week off is perfect timing for us to get our bodies ready for the grand final,” he said, adding it was too hard to pick who they’d be facing in that final.
“The whole competition has been this way this year – anyone can beat anyone on their day. I haven’t seen it that way for 10 years, how close it’s been.”