NORTHERN United Cricket Association’s successful run at Bendigo Country Week was soured by a slip-up at the last minute which disqualified the side from the grand final.
After four games, Northern United finished with three wins and a single loss to leave them second on the ladder, in front of the Bendigo DCA Colts — and just behind Grampians CA Colts.
Unfortunately this was not enough to lift Northern United into the division three final on Friday, with the side disqualified from the final due to playing an illegal number of players.
In Country Week cricket, one team can only play a maximum of 17 different cricketers across the week and United unknowingly broke this limit by playing 18.
This meant that the third-placed Bendigo moved up into the final to play Grampians which the latter won by one wicket.
In round one of the competition Northern United got off to a flying start, batting first against Grassmere Cricket Association and posting an intimidating 230. James Harney belted 97 while Ben Hamilton chimed in with 35 runs of his own. United then rolled Grassmere for just 169 in reply, with Harney, Daniel Morgan and Tyler Oliver all grabbing two scalps.
On day two, United continued their strong batting start to the campaign against Colac DCA Colts – this time smashing their way to 7/275 off their allotted 50 overs. Twin centuries to Heathcote’s Luke Bell (102) and the in-form Harney (125) propelled United to the total.
Colac was valiant in defeat – finishing their innings bowled out for 249. Colac opener David Treweek smashed an incredible 182 to give his side a chance — however a four-wicket haul to Jeremy Blencowe slowed Colac’s momentum.
Game three proved to be a tough one for United as they succumbed to eventual winners the Grampians in their first loss of the tournament.
Grampians batted first and posted a modest 190 to give United every chance of their third win on-the-trot. Chris Guinane proved to be the chief destroyer for United – snaring four wickets.
In reply, United fell for just 154 with Kale Hoggins (60) and Scott Lawry (30) the best performed batsmen.
On day four, United faced the last placed Upper Loddon at Barrack Reserve and needed a big victory to give them a chance of making the final.
It started well for United as they rolled Upper Loddon for just 52 thanks to four wickets from Jim Grogan. United then gave itself an opportunity for outright victory after a quick-fire 71 from Jeremy Blencowe led them to 152.
They sent Upper Loddon in to bat again – in hope of bowling them out for under the 100-run target that they led by.
In the end United bowled its opposition out for another lowly score of 57, handing them the outright victory that they needed and boosting them into second position.
However, it was not to be for Northern United with the rule book stepping in and preventing the team from having a crack at the division three Bendigo Country Week title.