Ben Dobson high-fives teammates after West Warrnambool won the WDCA division one grand final.WEST Warrnambool’s first premiership in 22 years brought tears of joy yesterday after the Panthers produced a stunning performance to defeat minor premier Nestles at Merrivale Recreation Reserve.
Nanjing Night Net

An inspired West dismissed the previously undefeated Nestles for 58 to claim a 73-run victory before tea.

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Moments after a Simon Johnson yorker cannoned into James Dalton’s middle stump to end one of the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association’s longest premiership droughts, there was an emotional outpouring from West players.

Captain Andrew Robb, Johnson, wicketkeeper Luke Gannon and paceman Corey McDonald shed tears as they were mobbed by teammates, friends and family.

For 42-year-old Robb, the final wicket was more of relief than excitement as he tried to temper celebrations, thinking Nestles would want to send them back into bat.

But 90 seconds later when Nestles skipper Brett Eldridge walked on to the ground to shake the hands of the umpires, West’s celebrations resumed.

“Then the excitement hit,” Robb said.

While Robb had time away from the Panthers during the drought, he said the victory capped off the careers of veterans Leigh and Simon Johnson, Gannon and McDonald.

“It’s a long time but now the monkey’s off the back,” he said.

“The next time we win a premiership, it (the last one) is not that far away.

“I’ve played in four losing semi-finals and some grand finals, so it’s not like we haven’t been around the mark.”

Robb said he felt his side was owed a premiership after two years being consigned to runner-up after rain washed out the season-decider when his side was on top.

“At the end of the day we deserved to win with what happened a couple of years ago,” he said.

“I thought it was one that got away. But we’ve worked really hard as a group and trained hard.”

Robb said Leigh Johnson’s unbeaten 57, which earnt him man-of-the-match honours, had been crucial.

But he said the turning point came in the shadows of stumps on Saturday night when Simon Johnson and 15-year-old Will Mills each grabbed a wicket to leave Nestles 2-10 entering yesterday’s final day.

“We didn’t bat well. Our good players got out and Leigh held us together. But the best thing was being forced to bowl (Saturday) night. It was better than us batting for another 30 runs,” Robb said.

The Panthers then grabbed three wickets in the first hour yesterday, including joint cricketer of the year Cameron Williams for two, to have Nestles 5-31. Simon Johnson was brilliant, taking 4-16 off 25 overs, including 15 maidens.

Nestles skipper Brett Eldridge, who started his WDCA career with West, acknowledged his former teammates Robb, the Johnsons and Gannon.

“I know what it means to you,” he said at the presentations.

He said he was disappointed with the result, which ended his side’s undefeated season.

“They just bowled better than us,” he said.

“The game was on our terms. If we had batted our overs and batted well we would win the game, but they put us under pressure.”

He said his young group would bounce back.

He said most of his players had committed for next season.

“The ones who were 50-50 would regard it as a job not done,” he said.

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