It’s the game everyone in Boorowa had hoped for, but unfortunately it has arrived one week too early.
The Crocs and the Gators will face off in this week’s final at the Boorowa recreation ground for the right to face Binalong in the Sweeney Cup cricket Grand final next week.
This scenario has come about after a weekend of mixed results for the local teams in the major and minor semi-finals.
The Crocs came back from almost certain death to win an incredible game against Murrumbateman and erase the scars of the same elimination final loss last year.
Stand in Skipper, Phil Coggins showed he had lost none of his captaincy skills losing the toss which may have been a blessing in disguise with the Crocs batting first and having to set a target.
It was tough going for the batsmen on a very slow outfield.
They lost their first wicket on 10 when Coggo was caught short of his ground after a freakish throw from the outfield.
The innings progressed steadily and so did the fall of wickets as they reached a precarious 5/64 after 20 overs.
After drinks they lost two critical wicket to slide to 7/68 and a score well below triple figures looked likely.
The unlikely duo of Josh Grey and Nick Dwyer set about a rescue mission to give the bowlers something to defend and a magnificent job they did, with an eighth wicket stand of 65 to take the score to 8/133 before the final total was reached shortly after at 9/137.
Murrumbateman threw everything at the Nick and Josh whose patient and sensible partnership buoyed the rest of the team with hope that they could defend the total.
Nick finished with 34 whilst Josh made the most important 11 runs of his career.
In reply, Murrumbateman seemed in control for most of the run chase.
They were 1/46 in the first 14 overs and even at the halfway point they seemed in command at 1/59 off 20 overs only requiring a further 79 runs with nine wickets in hand at less than four runs per over.
Boorowa tried pace and spin to break the top order resistance as the situation became bleak with each passing over.
At 1/92, Murrumbateman required just 46 more with nine wickets still in hand and 13 overs to spare.
It was then the momentum began to change as Boorowa struck a double blow to keep their faint hopes of survival alive.
Murrumbateman had reached 3/102 after 30 overs and still required just 36 more with seven wickets in hand. Seven tight overs by the Crocs that saw four wickets fall for just 16 further runs and at 7/118 Murrumbateman required 20 to win off 18 deliveries.
The bowling at the death by Cameron Johnston and Blake Toman was sensational and Murrumbateman had lost the unlosable finishing at 7/125.
The Crocs had used their get out of jail card but in doing so had gained tremendous confidence in defending such a low total.
Best of the Boorowa bowlers were Nick Dwyer with 2/21 and Blake Toman 2/24 whilst Jye Paterson 1/11 and Cameron Johnston 1/11 were the other wicket takers.
James Green and Alex Blomfield also bowled with useful pace whilst the slow men Josh Grey and Phil Coggins chipped in with useful spells at a critical stage of the innings.
Blake Anderson was tremendous behind the stumps in trying conditions.
There was much rejoicing by the Crocs, who although they never stopped believing they could win, certainly were hanging by a thread.
As news filtered through on their iPhones that the Gators had lost, they knew that the road to the top of the mountain was about to get steeper in seven days time.
The Major Semi between the Gators and Binalong saw both teams in control at various stages in the match but it was Binalong with a late innings batting flourish who won the day by 22 runs.
Binalong batted first and whilst they didn’t rip the attack apart, they did get themselves into a solid position at 1/64 after 20 overs.
They increased the tempo in the next ten overs setting up for an onslaught at 2-132 after 30 overs.
They attacked the bowling in the final ten overs losing just two more wickets along the way to finish on 4/201 off their allotted 40 overs.
Whilst this was a very competitive target, it was certainly not beyond the powerful Gators batting line up.
The wickets were evenly shared with Tim Gregory 1/25, Andrew Burns 1/22, Mick Canellis 1/12 and Mick Elkins 1/32 getting amongst the spoils.
In reply, The Gators had the worst possible start losing Russell George for a duck and Mick Elkins for 3 to be struggling at 2/4.
It was the heavy hitters Simon Pye and Andrew Burns that set about resurrecting the innings taking the score to 73 before Simon departed for a well-made 44.
The Gators were 4/115 off 20 overs still requiring another 87 in the final 20 overs with 6 wickets left.
They continued to maintain a good run rate and at 4/141 they needed just 61 off 16 overs for victory with plenty of batsmen left.
However that’s when it all fell apart for the locals who collapsed to 9/163 in the 30th over.
The last wicket added a further 16 but the damage had been done with the Gators dismissed for 179.
Andrew Burns was the pick of the batsmen with a well compiled 74.
This Saturday’s final is literally the toss of a coin.
It will be interesting to see what both skippers choose to do should they win the coin toss.
On paper and form, the Gators have the edge. Apart from last Saturday, they have dropped just two games, albeit one to the Crocs earlier in the season.
They avenged that defeat just two weeks ago downing the Crocs by just eight runs.
The Gators have some batting fire power with the inform Simon Pye and Andrew Burns whilst Mick Elkins, Chris McIntosh and Mick Canellis have all contributed heavily to their success this season.
For the Crocs, their fire power has been their bowling with the best percentage strike rate in the competition.
Chris and Nick Dwyer have paved the way with the ball and will be well supported by Blake Toman Cam Johnston, Jye Paterson, Alex Blomfield and youngster Jacob Piper.
Their batting has struggled but as they proved last weekend they can defend medium targets if required.
This game is too close to call but the Gators are entitled to start slight favourites for those looking for the local bookmaker behind the stands of Bay 13.
Just be wary of the dodgy security guard at the ground with a huge wad of cash.
This game is not to be missed.
Two weeks ago saw one of the biggest crowds gather for a local cricket match in many years and this week should exceed that.
The positive spin is that at least one Boorowa team will progress to the grand final, just who that will be is anyone’s guess.
All will be revealed at about 6pm on Saturday evening. Two teams will enter, one team will leave.