Oak Flats saved their best bowling performance of the season for arch-rivals Lake Illawarra to claim a spot against minor premiers Albion Park in this weekend’s South Coast cricket final.
Albion Park allrounder Graeme Smith made a vital 105 to spearhead his side past Shellharbour, who played bravely but were always on the back foot with more than four hours lost due to rain delays.
The Park recovered from 4-34 to make 222, with Smith supported by Raheel Chaudhry (24).
The game was called off at 6.45pm Sunday with Shellharbour 7-118.
At Howard Fowles Oval, Oak Flats dismissed Lakers for 121 on a tricky batting deck.
Only opener Tony McCabe (44) and skipper Shane Cody (22) made solid contributions for the Lakers, while Darren O’Connell took 4-27 and Nathan Morrow 3-24.
Michael Arblaster (36 not out) and Rob Hill (38 not out) then put on an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 62 to seal victory for the Rats.
Oak Flats skipper Ryan Chatterton hailed his side’s ’’best bowling effort of the season’’ as crucial to the victory.
‘‘It was fantastic. To keep them to 120-odd off 77 overs, with 34 maidens was just great disciplined bowling,’’ Chatterton said.
If rain is a factor in the final Albion Park hold the advantage of knowing a draw is enough to claim the title.
But the Park aren’t happy with the final to be played at Geoff Shaw Oval – Oak Flats’ home ground – with first choice Croome Cricket Oval beset with problems due to recent rain.
In Second Grade minor premier Lake Illawarra take on Jamberoo in the premiership decider at Howard Fowles Oval.
The semi-finals begin in third and fourth grade this weekend, with Lakers taking on Oak Flats at Myimbarr Park East and Kookas facing Shellharbour White in Third Grade at Shane Lee Field.
In Fourth Grade, Lake Illawarra Gold meet Kookas at Morley Park West and Lakers Blue take on Shellharbour at Myimbarr Park West.