The Country team celebrates the dismissal of ATW batsman Joe Padmore in the preliminary final yesterday.
The Country team celebrates the dismissal of ATW batsman Joe Padmore in the preliminary final yesterday. Mike Knott

Waves salvage draw

ACROSS The Waves had many anxious moments before escaping with a draw against Country/Wests in the Bundaberg Division 1 preliminary final yesterday.

Overnight rain and constant drizzle made conditions tough virtually from the start on Saturday, but Country clawed their way to 4-92 from 42 overs before the pitch deteriorated to the extent that it was deemed to be not fit for play.

Action was scheduled to resume at 10am yesterday but for a long time, it appeared that further rain during the night and continuing showers throughout the morning would force the abandonment of the match.

But conditions improved and umpires Mick Clarry and Noel Patterson ruled for the game to resume almost 24 hours after the cessation of play.

Country batted just two more overs and added four runs before declaring to give themselves a shot at an unlikely victor.

They exploited the bowler-friendly pitch superbly, with young seamer Kyle Stallan making the initial break-through, and from there, wickets began to fall at regular intervals.

When Stallan struck twice in the 30th over, reducing them to 8-58, ATW were on the ropes, but tail-enders Nathan Sarnadsky and Liam Denning held out for a nervous last six overs to clinch the draw which was enough to promote them into the grand final.

Stallan finished with 3-18 from 11 overs, while Gear was at his vintage best, taking 3-10 from nine overs, while captain/coach Travis Henke prised out the big scalp of Brendan Prossliner, and spinner Ben Burrows also chipped in with a wicket. Henke also led from the front with the bat, compiling an unbeaten 44 from 122 balls, after change bowler Brendan Prossliner had struck in his second and third overs to have Country teetering at 2-24.

Ultimately, Country were denied by the bell, but while ATW were rewarded for being the higher placed team during the fixture rounds, it probably would have been a travesty of justice if they had missed the decider in the circumstances of the game.

ATW will now meet six-times defending champions and minor premiers Brothers in the grand final this weekend, chasing their first top grade title since 2004.

Despite their batting collapse yesterday, they will draw plenty of confidence from their comprehensive victory over Brothers in the last round.

While it was not a win yesterday, they displayed character to hang on under extreme adversity and pressure, and it was also a good day all around for the club as their minor premiership winning Divisions 2 and 3 sides also booked grand final berths.

Their schedule Division 2 major semi-final against Alloway was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to the conditions.

In Division 3, ATW scored a four-wicket victory over Isis with almost five overs in hand with captain Adam Lutz leading the charge with 66 runs.

Their Division 4 team also kept the club's hopes of a senior clean-sweep alive, holding on for an 11-run minor semi-final despatch of Brothers Blue.

Minor premiers Isis are the first team through to the Division 4 decider after accounting for Brothers White in a low-scoring major semi-final with Clinton Homann wreaking havoc with 6-12.

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