A year on from a devastating grand final loss, Kyabram Fire Brigade turned the tables on Rochester United with a crushing win in the weekend’s Goulburn Murray Cricket A grade decider.
The third consecutive time the teams had met in the grand final, United was looking for a historic three-peat but couldn’t play anywhere near its best cricket.
Fire Brigade, aside from a somewhat shaky start with the bat, dominated the vast majority of the contest and thoroughly deserved the win, making up for last season’s disappointment.
Captain Daniel Kent said the side had finally exercised its demons and beaten the GMC’s powerhouse side.
‘‘It’s relief more than anything after the last two years,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve been in great situations and haven’t won, so I was never happy until we got that last wicket.
‘‘(Winning the grand final) means everything, it’s why we play - we don’t consider it a successful season unless we win the flag.
‘‘To lose the last two the way we did, we felt like we’d let the whole club down so today was for everyone at the club.’’
The biggest difference from the previous two grand finals was Fire Brigade’s ability to post a monstrous total.
At 3-74, the game looked evenly poised but the dismissal of Mick Mattingly for a duck swung the game massively in United’s favour.
Or did it?
The wicket brought in the danger man, superstar bat Paul Newman who proceeded to team with Henry Charlton, who made a patient and influential 78, to bat Kyabram into red-hot favouritism.
The pair drove the Flames to 4-192, when Newman was dismissed after a rapid 74 from 76 balls, 58 out of his runs coming from boundaries.
Charlton joined him on the sidelines soon after, caught and bowled by Myles Wade, but the speed of Newman’s innings meant there was plenty of time left to turn a strong score into an impenetrable one.
Kent set about the task with 41 from 41 balls and Jayden Rosin, batting at number nine after batting in the middle-order most of the season, whacked 47 from 44 as they pushed on to finish on 301 all out.
Liam Ringin was dangerous as well as economical with 2-19 from nine overs, before injury left him unable to continue.
Kent was proud of his side’s fight from a precarious position.
‘‘We didn’t start great, we were 4-70 so at that stage it was probably 50-50,’’ he said.
‘‘But we’d loaded our middle-order for a reason and that was to make runs after tea.
‘‘We batted really well in the end and to make 300, not many teams lose grand finals making 300.’’
United’s daunting chase never really got going, despite 17 from Jordan Garrett and a fighting 54 from Tim Rasmussen.
The run-rate was always likely to get the better of them, with four wickets to Mick Mattingly helping the Flames to win by more than 150 runs.
‘‘We bowled really well early and didn’t have much luck, but the important thing was they didn’t get away to a good start, there was no damage done with the new ball in terms of the run-rate,’’ Kent said.
‘‘That meant the guys in the middle-order had to play their shots and that kept us in the game and gave us chances of getting wickets.’’
United skipper Tim Bubb’s touching speech at the trophy presentations spoke for a club still reeling from the death of much-loved club member Matt O’Donohue in a car crash earlier in the week.
‘‘It’s obviously been a pretty tough week, and like was said before the game, it’s not really about premierships, it’s about the people we meet along the way,’’ he said.
‘‘Although we didn’t win today we’re still going back to the rooms to enjoy the night with blokes I consider brothers.’’