Demons' 20th flag

Andrew Groves' has provided a comprehensive wrap of the Premier Final and Melbourne's historic victory.





Melbourne powered home to win its 20th Premier ones flag today after three days of hard cricket against battling Ringwood.

Skipper Andrew Kent congratulated his men after the game as they completed the treble to become the undisputed kings of one and two-day cricket.

Set a second innings target of 174, they tore the Rams apart on the final day with Bushrangers pair Michael Hill (79) and Alex Keath (50no) guiding them home.

In a game full of exceptional performances, the man-of-the-match went to Matthew Begbie for his superb 93 in Melbourne’s first innings.

His skipper heaped praised on the young batsmen who showed maturity way beyond his years.

“At the start of the season we wanted to finish top four and we wanted to improve on our white ball game which we did,” said Kent.kent_and_cup_f3_web

“Matthew Begbie won the medal in the seconds Grand Final last year and made 150 in that. He was probably earmarked to come out and do the job for us and he did. If that doesn’t raise his status I don’t know what will.

“How many 19-20-year-old batsmen are doing that at the moment?”

Rams' skipper Ben Osborne, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat.

He feels his side will grow in stature despite the result and come back next season even stronger.

“We didn’t get enough runs in the first innings,” he said.

“We weren’t far away, but we needed 300-350. Obviously we may have got more if we’d have had Nathan but it wasn’t to be.

“To our credit we stuck in. When it’s finals you win the toss and bat first, get some runs on the board. You know there’s things on their minds if you can get a couple of wickets.

"They get a bit nervous and that was the case in the first innings. But we just couldn’t finish off the job.”

Ringwood started the final day looking for quick runs to set a tricky target for the Demons to chase.mw_hill_sweeps_f3_web

Things were made difficult for the Rams when they lost Tom Stray for 68, bowled by Keath.

When Brendan Walsh was castled moments later by Quinn for 13, the writing was on the wall.

However, Daniel King and Patrick Ashton dug deep to build some kind of lead by adding 63 for the seventh wicket with shots all round the park.

King was eventually run out for 33 after some brilliant work by Chris Thompson off his own bowling.

Ashton continued to chance his arm, and was successful, before Osborne declared the Rams’ innings on 7-194, a lead of 173. Ashton finished on 28 not out and Blair Allan six not out.

In reply Melbourne lost Begbie (3) and Way (13) before tea with the score on 47. But they had the class in the hutch to come through to complete the clean sweep.

The victory brought to an end an action-packed three days of Premier cricket.matt_begbie_jw_scholes_medallist_f3_web

Day one started dramatically when Ringwood’s Nathan Walsh suffered a nasty blow to the thumb and had to retire hurt. He would later return to the fold and courageously bat one-handed at number eleven lasting one more ball.

Undeterred by Walsh’s plight, fellow opener David King continued his majestic form with the bat this summer by hitting a composed 56.

But with a big three figure score on the cards he was removed by Brenton McDonald lbw. The leg spinner would later go on to grab four more victims to turn the match in the Demons’ favour.

Before stumps Melbourne had to endure a tricky test of its mettle with a fired-up Michael Topp steaming in.

However, Hill and Begbie countered to see the treble-chasers close on 1-49.

Day two produced more drama.

Early wickets were the order of the day for the Rams, and they came in trickles. Hill was the first to go slashing Holland to the gully for 41.

Keath (0) and Kent (12) soon followed. But McDonald showed his importance with ball and bat striking up a 50-run partnership with Begbie.

When McDonald departed for 34, cutting David King to Holland, they were still on top. However, King then snicked off Matthew Brown next ball for a golden to leave the door open for his side.

Wicketkeeper Ashley Middlin survived the hat-trick ball to take Melbourne up to 6-178 at lunch, with 56 needed to take the first innings win.

King picked up his third of the afternoon shortly after the break when Middlin edged behind for nine. But Patrick Smith (22) and Thompson (21) provided excellent support for Begbie as they went past Ringwood to register a lead of 21.topp_dismisses_begbie_f3_web

Begbie deserved a hundred for his show of defiance, but was last man out for a match-winning 93.

With plenty of time left in the game Ringwood went for the reverse outright.

With Nathan Walsh unable to bat, Stray was elevated to open. He batted superbly for his 63 not out at stumps. But with David King (3), Loorham (10), Holland (5) and Osborne (12) all going late in the day, an upset looked a long way off the mark.

Stray would only add another five to his overnight score on the final morning before King (33) and Patrick Ashton (28no) set a competitive target of 174 to win.

Melbourne could have batted out time to win the contest. But they went out positively and brought home the bacon with some exhilarating shots all around the wicket.

For a full interview with Melbourne’s Andrew Kent as he looks back on an extraordinary season for the Demons see the Premier website later in the week.














































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