Round 4 – Under 15 Weblin Shield – Petersham Oval
Manly-Warringah 145 (Priest 57*, Lucius 20, O’Brien 14) defeated South Eastern 132 (Melville 3-21, Dunnachie 2-21, Barnett 1-16, Dunne 1-16)
We finally had some luck at the toss and decided to bat first on a good deck at picturesque Petersham Oval.
Losing a wicket first ball was not in the game plan but it set the tone for what would be a day-long dogfight.
Building partnerships has been a struggle most of the campaign and again it proved the way as we lost further wickets at 21, 45, 48, 48 and 56.
At 6-56 it looked like we’d be back over to the beaches by mid-afternoon.
Someone needed to stand up and be counted and that young man was Matt Priest.
In his finest innings at DCA level, Priesty came in at the fall of the fourth wicket and stayed until the end.
His intelligent knock featured smart running between wickets, five boundaries, sound shot selection and some good old-fashioned grit and determination.
He remained undefeated on 57 to keep us in the contest.
With Joe O’Brien, Luke Morley and Sam Dunne offering good support in the lower order, we managed to take the innings through to the 50th over to post a modest but reasonably respectable 145.
Over a lunch of pizza, chicken and Greek salad, the Manly boys vowed to give it everything with the ball in what was a must-win game.
In only the second over, Evan Dunnachie made a vital breakthrough.
The South Eastern opener, who had plenty to say in the field, drudged back to the pavilion in silence for a golden duck after guiding a rearing delivery straight to Joey at square leg.
It was 1-4 and game on.
The home side recovered from that early loss but never really looked overly comfortable.
Ollie Melville enticed an outside edge from former Manly boy Sam Greenland for Oscar Lucius to do the rest behind the stumps and make it 2-37.
Spin was then introduced at both ends and was to have a major say in proceedings.
Offie Sam Barnett worked in tandem with leggie Luke Morley (1-21) for the next 18 overs, the pair drying up the runs and taking a crucial wicket each.
Luke’s wicket was the result of superb one-handed diving catch at short cover from skipper Josh Seward. A true classic.
Throw in an easy run out and South Eastern had now slumped to 5-64 in the 30th.
Eighty two needed in 20 overs with five wickets in hand.
Who would going to blink first?
Evan kept Manly’s nose slightly in front, knocking over their No.7 just as Souths threatened to get on top.
It was now 6-89 in the 37th.
A seventh wicket partnership of 36 had Manly looking for something special and the magic man – Sam Jones – delivered.
His superb side-on run out stopped South Eastern in their tracks.
Ollie and Dunney combined to clean up the tail, the last three wickets falling for just seven runs as Manly celebrated a memorable 13-run win.
Ollie again proved what a great death bowler he is, finishing with 3-21 a week after almost pulling off a final over miracle against Bankstown.
This was a victory for teamwork, unity and a never-say-die attitude.
No wonder the post-match Coronas tasted so sweet for the coaching trio of Munter, Dawesy and Smells.
As Phil wrote the day after the game: “They say a win is a win, but all wins are not equal.
“Yesterday’s was a fine example that players that stick to a plan, work together and support each other for every ball of the game win games of cricket.
“It was a hard fought contest, a contest in which we were tested from the first ball, a contest where we never really gained the upper hand until the last few overs, a contest where every player had a significant moment that added to the outcome.
“Teams and memories are built round such wins, friendships are forged that last a life time and above all else everything is achievable when we play for each other.”
Thanks to all who contributed, from the drivers, scorers, coaches, manager and supporters.
The finals dream is still alive but it will need a huge effort against NDs on Sunday.