Mariners’ final hurdle


Dane Ugle hits the winning runs, belting a six over long on to seal the Mariner’s first ever WACA First Grade grand final appearance.
Dane Ugle hits the winning runs, belting a six over long on to seal the Mariner’s first ever WACA First Grade grand final appearance.

Ugle’s unconquered 158 guided the Mariners to victory against Perth last weekend, just 12 months after the club finished second last.

The Demons dominated the semi-final until the number five counter-attacked and flipped the game on its’ head during his 188 ball knock that featured 16 boundaries and three sixes, the last of which led to jubilant scenes from the faithful at Lark Hill.

Hours earlier, Perth racked up 2-353 declared and reduced the home team to 4-84, leaving most Mariners supporters thinking the 16-year grand final drought would continue.

“It was really nerve-racking out there, I just wanted to face ball by ball and work with the lower order,” Ugle said. “At the start it was just small goals.

“We always knew that batting time, the runs would come.”

After losing the first five wickets for 141 with a mainly defensive mindset, Ugle attacked, initially with Josh Smith (49 off 36 balls), to put pressure on Perth for the first time in the game.

He then found late-order partners who provided some stout resistance, while continuing to dispatch errant bowling.

“We always knew and believed that if we stuck in and batted the day, that we would come away with the win,” said Ugle.

Ugle put on 72 for the eighth wicket with Kyle Gardiner (26 off 88) before hitting the last 40 runs with number 11 Joel Marion (3n.o. off 52), guiding the Mariners to 9-358.

First year Mariners coach Mark Atkinson didn’t see the great escape coming after a tough first day either.

“Fantastic win because after lunch (on day two) we were probably gone at five down,” he said.

“Dane Ugle had the opportunity to make a hero of himself and he did.”

Atkinson said having a consistent first XI was an important part of his team’s success.

“We’ve played as a group, we’ve had stability and had pretty much the same 11 nearly all year, which is a big thing,” he said.

“To have Brendon Diamanti all year, to have ‘Simmo’ (Craig Simmons) all year, our batting has been fantastic. To have five batters make over 400 runs, it’s massive in this competition; you have to make runs.

“I dreamt of playing finals cricket. I spoke to the committee about playing finals cricket, that’s what we aim for and we’ve got an opportunity to win the big one.”

Simmons, a member of the very first Rockingham-Mandurah side in 2000/01, said the pain of losing last month’s one day final and lack of success in general was a big motivator.

“Losing the one day final a few weeks ago (to Claremont-Nedlands), the hurt on not just the older guys that have been here for 10 to 15 years but the young blokes as well, it meant a lot to them,” he said.

“It might have been the kick in the guts to Kyle Gardiner and Joel Marion to get them to hang in with Dane today.”

The club will also be represented on grand final day by the Under-15s team, which got the job done against Fremantle by three wickets.

The Mariners bowled out the Navy Blues for 118 as Kai Harrison claimed three wickets before Jordan Clark followed up 2-26 with a snappy 38 from 36 deliveries to secure a fourth straight Under-15 grand final berth for the club in the 43rd over.

The Under-15s grand final will be decided on Saturday from 9.30am between Rockingham-Mandurah and Wanneroo.

Rain hurt the Under-17s chances of joining them at Murdoch University Playing Fields, as only 39.2 overs of play meant Wanneroo went through to the decider as the higher ranked team.

The first grade grand final at the WACA takes place from 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday, with Rockingham-Mandurah squaring up against rivals Fremantle.

The club will host post-game festivities at Lark Hill for all club supporters on Sunday evening.