ROCKINGHAM-Mandurah felt the full force of former Hobart Hurricanes player Travis Birt as it went down in the final of the Premier Cricket One Day League to Claremont-Nedlands.
The Mariners appeared to have the game in hand before the Tigers skipper slammed five sixes in a sensational 105 to lead his side home by seven wickets at Fletcher Park last Sunday.
Craig Simmons had no hesitation opting to bat after winning the toss and Sam Whiteman (42 off 39 balls) quickly made it clear it was the correct choice as he struck three boundaries in the game’s opening over.
Whiteman, given permission to play by the Western Warriors despite an injured finger, paired with Mitch Green (33 off 54) for 77 in the opening stand before both were out in quick succession.
The innings slowed during the middle overs as Claremont’s spinners were able to get the ball to grip and hold in the surface.
Dane Ugle did his best to keep the game moving with 48 from 76 deliveries, including three sixes.
When he was dismissed at 5-153, the Mariners were in danger of squandering their solid start, but Simmons, coming in at six, made 55 from just 30 balls.
Together with Aaron Burrage, the pair added 75 during the last 10 overs as the youngster, unfazed by the pressure, played beautifully for 36 off 35 deliveries.
Rockingham-Mandur-ah’s 8-247 appeared a stiff chase for the Tigers, but that thought did not last long as Birt settled before launching anything and everything as he hammered the bowling attack.
Paired with former Mariner Jake Whiteaker, who was organised and composed in his 69 off 122, they scored at better than a run-a-ball for the first 25 overs to eat into the deficit.
Birt brought up his 50 and 100 with sixes before being caught by Ugle on the midwicket fence, off the bowling of Kyle Gardiner, for 105 from 92 deliveries.
Gardiner was the best of the Mariners bowlers, taking 1-51 from 10 overs, as Ugle (1-18 off 5 overs) and Joel Marion (1-41 off 8) also chipped in with wickets.
But the 174 run opening stand meant Claremont-Nedlands could play risk-free cricket to get home with five overs and seven wickets to spare.
For Rockingham-Mandurah, the loss could prove a valuable learning tool for coach Mark Atkinson to show his players as they embark on a two-day finals series as the number one seed, with a premiership, potentially, just three fine weekends of cricket away.
On Saturday, Rockingham-Mandurah clinched the Kevin Sullivan Silver Cup for the first time in the club’s history to mark the end of the Premier Cricket season.
The Mariners easily accounted for Scarborough, posting 232 in 50 overs off the back of Ugle’s 73.
Gardiner was then terrific with the ball, capturing 3-43 from his 10 overs as the Gulls only reached 6-183 from their allotted 50 overs.