CAPTAIN Brett Eldridge felt he owed his side after missing last week through suspension and yesterday he delivered with a remarkable all-round performance that lifted Nestles to a six-wicket victory over reigning premier Allansford.
Nanjing Night Net

Eldridge took 6-35 from 24 overs on Saturday, including a hat-trick, as Nestles restricted the Gators to 210.

After being in early trouble yesterday, Eldridge guided Nestles to a drought-breaking semi-final win with an unbeaten 99. His side finished on 4-213 with six overs to spare.

The triumph for Nestles, its first from four semi-final encounters with Allansford in the past five years, sets up a grand final showdown with West Warrnambool this weekend.

Eldridge was unaware he finished the game on 99 after he cracked a pull shot through mid-wicket for four to seal victory. He said a grand final berth meant more than his personal double.

“I thought I owed it to the boys,” he said.

“I wanted to make sure my match fitness was up so I put more of an emphasis on training hard because I went four weeks without a hit.”

Eldridge, one of the association’s leading players, has developed a habit of performing against Allansford, the winner of the past three premierships.

In the last preliminary match last season, he took six wickets and made 103 to ensure his side played finals. The 29-year-old said his side’s performance had been top- shelf against one of the competition’s toughest opponents and an emphasis on partnerships had paid off.

“Allansford are such a good side, you know they are going to keep coming and they give you nothing,” he said.

“To get that score, we needed partnerships and Scotty Kelly and Cam Williams, we had to work together.

“That was the most pleasing thing. The previous years we haven’t had the patience and experience to last as long as we did today.”

Gators skipper Josh Parkinson, while disappointed with the result, couldn’t fault his side in the field.

“Externally people would have thought 210 was a good score, but internally we were pretty disappointed,” Parkinson said.

“I thought we were in a good position to make high 200s but all season we haven’t been able to do it.

“We knew we had to bowl well and I thought we did a good job. We were beaten by a better side. Brett was the difference in the game.”

Eldridge’s hat-trick on Saturday came at a crucial stage in the game. After Allansford had shored up its innings with a big fifth-wicket stand, Eldridge removed Matt Brophy, who was caught behind by Cam Williams. The next ball Eldridge bowled Tim McDonald, then trapped Brett Membrey in front for a duck. He came perilously close to a double hat-trick, having a raucous bat-pad appeal turned down.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.