Finley young-gun Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Haynes was the hero of the day for Finley in an absolute thriller on Saturday.
In what came down to a last over decider between the Cats and Berrigan Saints in Division One of the Murray Valley Cricket Association, Haynes flew through with a three wicket maiden to win the match by three runs.
The day started off well for Cats’ captain Cougar McGrath who the toss for the first time this season, sending his side into bat without hesitation.
With ideal cricket conditions, the only thing the batters had to overcome was a fierce bowling attack and a slow outfield where boundaries along the ground were few and far between.
Opening bowler Zach Nugent (2/22 off eight), took the prize wicket of McGrath (two runs), who's pace deviated off the pitch just enough to see the ball fly off McGrath's bat and into the hands of Matthew Ross who swallowed the catch in the slips cordon.
Opening batsman Adnan Malik (20 runs) and first drop Dan Hughes (43) faced up against a barrage of short balls that took shape as a fierce bodyline series match up.
Nugent and Ross (0/22 off eight) bowled a fast and tight attack which dried up the Cats’ run rate up before Tom Whelan (1/24 off eight) and Tom Beams (1/36 off eight) came into the attack.
With Dan Hughes’ steady batting style keeping him around the crease, with the newcomer having more leaves then a gum tree, he built some short important partnerships with Murray Urquart (23), Ryan Donkin (16) and Paul Massingham (10).
Sharp bowling from the Saints kept the Cats’ at a modest 7/143 off 40 overs.
The Cats’ opening over with was one to quickly forget as Bailey Coombs (0/27 off three) saw the new ball hooked past the boundary three times from Berrigan's Andrew Parr (34).
Despite a determined Darcy Webb (0/13 off five) looking to make up for his previous weeks form, bowling a tight and economical opening spell, the Saints’ opening pair saw it like a beach ball.
The first over had set the tone for the opening partnership of Parr and Beams (19) who raced away to 49 before the first loss of wicket from first change bowler Ryan Donkin.
That brought an in-form Nugent (44) into the attack who posted the match's top score.
Cats’ bowlers Massingham and Urqhuart came in to the attack in an attempt to dry up the runs and a brilliant connection between Massingham and keeper McGrath saw Beams take his leave from a caught behind.
Ross (18) and Nugent kept their heads down for the better part of the tail end of their innings, putting away the loose balls.
In what seemed like an inevitable Saints victory, economic bowling and sharp fielding brought the Cats back into the game.
The wrist spin of Malik (1/15 off five) and consistent pitch of pace bowler Archie Mason (0/15 off five) dried up the run rate, setting up a pressure situation for Haynes .
With just four runs to get in the final over, Haynes had a tough challenge as he ran down to bowl against the Saints’ best chance of victory, Nugent.
After a dot ball on the first, Nugent's stumps were split apart from a wicket taking ball from Haynes.
Needing four runs off four balls, Haynes made it his mission to strike the next batter immediately, bowling through the gate of Tom Isedale, setting up for a hat-trick ball.
Brad Loats came to the crease with the pressure of a hat-trick ball, and the ball rocketed into the pads of Loats only to be given not out by the umpire.
With all of the Cats’ fielders on red alert to stop any runs from getting through, Haynes delivered the final blow, with the safe hands of Coombs taking a catch at long-on with the final ball of the innings, the Cats took the victory thanks to a three wicket maiden.
For Berrigan the Tim Harris Transport Award went to Zach Nugent.
The Cats will travel to Deniliquin for a top three clash this weekend while the Saints rest their players for a round bye.
After winning the toss and batting first against Jerilderie, Finley's Division Two started strong at the top order.
Justin Crowley (32) was able to score with ease, finding the boundary on several occassions, with his opening partner in Russell Anderson (five) rotating the strike with a supportive role.
After a mix up in the middle Jerilderie pounced with Grant Patrick Smith running out the in-form Anderson.
Ian Swain (22) was able to tick over the score after Crowley was dismissed only for there to be another run out of Harrison King.
Swain and captain Marcus Anderson where able to rotate the strike with some help from some middle order hitting from Anthony king (23).
Dale Rees provided the highlight of the day launching a massive six off the bowling off Greg Lawton.
The Cats managed to put on a total of 127 from their 35 overs.
The start with the ball wasn't the best from the Cats with Jerilderie young gun Rory Knight finding the fence on six occasions for his 25, only to be overshadowed by Luke Keating's knock of 53 before retiring not out.
A tight bowling spell from returning veteran Pete Magill (1/11 off five), helped the Cats who were able to stop runs from flowing, picking up the key wicket of Knight.
Jordan Anthony was caught on the fence by Finley's best fielder for the day, Liam Rafferty.
The Cats were unable to stop the partnership of Smith (33 not out) and Andrew Neessen (five not out) however, as the undefeated Dees were able to pass the Cats’ score.
This Saturday the Cats will play Nathalia at home while Jerilderie play Katamatite at home.