Those who were lucky enough to be at No. 1 Oval on Saturday witnessed something they won’t forget in a hurry.
On the biggest day of the season, Jordan Moran made a near-unbelievable 214 not as Rugby piled on a stunning and unheard of 4/426 on day one of the RSL-Whitney Cup grand final.
Many expected the decider against South Dubbo to be an even affair and while the game is only half complete, Rugby is in as good as position as any side after day one in RSL-Whitney Cup history.
Moran was simply brilliant. He toughed it out early but a six off Mat Finlay in the sixth over signalled his intentions and he didn’t give a chance until he was closing in on 200 in the final few overs.
Moran finished 214 not out from 214 balls. He hit 20 fours and five sixes in the all-time great innings.
For the man himself it was a proud moment and all the more satisfying given his relatively quiet season for his club side up until Saturday.
“It’s about time I stood up for Rugby and scored some runs,” he said after the day’s play.
“I think over the last couple of years I’ve been hit and miss for what I’m capable of and it’s rewarding to see the smiles on the boys’ faces.
“Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and win.”
The powerful left hander’s first hundred came off 127 balls while he went from 100 to 200 in just 74 balls.
In total, he spent more than 300 minutes at the crease.
There’s no doubt Moran is one of the finest country-based players in the entire country.
The fact he represented Australian Country this season is proof of that and his representative call-ups are one of the reason he missed a lot of club cricke.
He also suffered a broken thumb while playing for Western Zone earlier in the season and he missed a number of games because of that, too.
Despite all that, Moran was all too aware he hasn’t been at his best for Rugby and prior to this weekend he had only made 193 runs at the still impressive average of 48 in 2017/18.
The big total had evaded him this summer. Until Saturday.
“While it feels outstanding and it’s a good achievement I’ll feel better tomorrow if we win,” he said.
“I think one of the boys said I’m the first to do it (make 200 in a grand final) in Dubbo which is quite special and I was determined after the lack of cricket I’ve played for Rugby this season.
“I wanted to go out and do the best I could for them. I had the mindset to hit as many on the ground as I could and not throw it away and it all paid off.”
Some South Dubbo players were left to say they had never seen a knock like Moran’s in their time in the game.
The hero of day one also had plenty of praise for his fellow batsmen, and rightly so.
Ben Wheeler, who had struggled batting with Moran in the past, made a fine 48 in an opening stand of 111.
Jacob Hill chipped in with 20 but Moran got the most support from James O’Brien.
O’Brien has been a standout all season and after a tough start on Saturday he went on to make 73 from 83 balls.
Souths were dealt a blow before play when former NSW Country player Will Lindsay failed to overcome a hamstring injury and despite fielding he was unable to bowl all day.
Captain Mitch Bower finished with 2/85 from 16 overs while Scott Tucker (1/57) and Joe Coles (1/75) were the other wicket-takers.
Henry Railz, one of the stars of the competition this season, finished with 0/100 off 15.
Moran said “it’s ours to lose” but was adamant his side couldn’t take it easy on Sunday.
If the Hornets are any chance to record one of the most amazing wins in Australian club cricket, they will need the likes of captain Bower, Railz, Corey McDean, Adam Wells and Lindsay to fire with the willow.
Play resumes at 1pm on Sunday at No. 1 Oval.