The Goulburn Murray’s two most recent cricketing powerhouses will clash this weekend in yet another grand final.
For a third straight year Rochester United and Kyabram Fire Brigade will meet in the decider. United is looking for a three-peat while Kyabram seeks to end its rival’s period of dominance.
Last year’s grand final was an instant classic, as United fought back from 8-78 to chase down Fire Brigade’s 129, thanks mainly to Sean Williams’ heroic, unbeaten 45.
Flames skipper Daniel Kent said his side was not forgetting last year’s heart-breaker in a hurry.
‘‘It’s always in the back of your mind, you don’t forget a loss like that, but you can’t really look back,’’ he said.
‘‘Grand finals especially are never won until they’re won and we definitely won’t be getting complacent this weekend.’’
But this season’s decider at Moama Oval will be played with a tragic background, after United B-grade player Matthew O’Donoghue was killed in a car accident this week.
United captain Tim Bubb said fronting up to play a game of cricket after a week from hell was a difficult task for the entire club.
‘‘It’s been a pretty tough week, and that’s certainly been the main focus for us,’’ he said.
‘‘Moving forward, hopefully we’ll be ready to go by the weekend, but that’s where we are at.
‘‘It puts it all into perspective, it’s just a game and if it doesn’t go our way, we know there are more important things.’’
For large parts of the season United looked unbeatable, but the Flames ruined its perfect season in round 12, as Kyabram’s batsmen caught fire.
‘‘Our bowling attack has probably been a bit down in the last few weeks, but it’s bounced back and flicked the switch for finals,’’ Bubb said.
‘‘Dylan’s (Cuttriss) first seven overs last week were probably all maidens, Sean Williams is taking wickets, and Liam (Ringin) took four last week as well.’’
After three losses in the first seven rounds of the season, the Flames’ form has burst into life since with seven straight wins, making them a dangerous entity heading to the decider.
Particularly, their batting has hit new heights, with the mid-season inclusions of all-rounder Mick Mattingly and legend Paul Newman not hurting either.
The duo have been regulars since round 10 and have made nearly 450 runs between them since, while Henry Charlton (averaging 28) and Sam Kershaw (averaging 30.5) provide stability in the top order.
‘‘They’re awesome; two of the best cricketers in the league,’’ Kent said.
‘‘Paul has been great for a long time, and when we get him back I think everyone is walking a little bit taller.
‘‘And Mick was just a bonus, we stumbled upon him, but he’s probably the best young cricketer I’ve played with.’’
With history on the line, Bubb said the third straight flag would be an incredible tonic for a devastating period.
‘‘It would be unbelievable — you don’t get too many chances to win three in a row,’’ he said.
‘‘We’d probably go down in history as a great team in the area, but the sentimental side would be massive too and mean a lot.’’