O’Brien’s 74 and Thomas’ five-for lead Pointers to grand final berth

Victor Tanti & Jake Santa Maria Geraldton Guardian
Pointers captain Jay O'Brien led from the front with a sublime 74.
Camera IconPointers captain Jay O'Brien led from the front with a sublime 74. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

Bluff Point are into the Geraldton Cricket League grand final after a terrific all round display to upset Wanderers and have another chance to end their title drought.

The Pointers beat Wanderers by 33 runs at GBSC Park on an excellent pitch, though the outfield was slowish.

They were the underdogs heading into the clash having suffered multiple batting collapses with only one win since Christmas which saw them drop from top of the ladder to making it into finals by less than a point.

This didn’t stop captain Jay O’Brien from batting after winning the toss as his team made 156 thanks mostly to O’Brien (74) who batted with a little luck but with great skill after his side was 3-21.

It was a true captain’s knock from O’Brien, determined to get his side through the innings and facing 157 deliveries before he was bowled by Mitchell Thompson as he looked to accelerate.

The key to the innings was an 89-run fourth wicket stand O’Brien shared with Sam Millett (32) who seems to save his best for Wanderers.

Clayton Bruce-Cherry (4-23), Damien King (3-23) and Mitch Thompson (2-19) shared most of the spoils as after Millett fell Pointers went down swinging losing 7-49.

Wanderers replied steadily with Ian Oglesby (16) and Gus Heberle (13) seeing off the first 10 overs before Oglesby was pinned in front by Mitchell McAuliffe.

Wesley Fleiser came and went before captain Kade Gillingham steadied with Heberle.

Then against the run of play Gillingham latched onto a short ball from tweaker Aaron Thomas and smashed it straight into the hands of Carl Shilling deep on the leg-side boundary.

He couldn’t believe he had picked the man out as he stood crestfallen on the pitch before eventually walking off.

It opened to floodgates for Thomas (5-26) who has found grand form with the ball taking 18 wickets in the Pointers’ past six games at 8.77.

Aaron Thomas had a day out with the ball taking 5-26.
Camera IconAaron Thomas had a day out with the ball taking 5-26. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

Bruce-Cherry (30) was the key for Wanderers with a counterattacking innings but he became Thomas’ third victim, pinned on the crease LBW.

Wanderers still had hope while Jason Partington (31no) remained but he ran out of partners as Thomas deservedly ended the innings with a caught and bowled to remove Justin Clarkson.

Carl Shilling (3-22) also impressed, as did Antonio Paradella (1-7 off six overs).

O’Brien was awarded man of the match for his hard grafted innings.

“For a while we’ve really struggled to bat 50 overs but I thought myself as a leader who hasn’t performed all that we all needed to stand-up,” he said.

“Got a bit lucky as they missed a couple of chances but was happy to bat out our 50 overs.”

O’Brien said they were able to win the big moments with the ball.

“With the pitch really good they got on top of our quicker bowlers, so we identified a need to slow it up and make them take some risks to play shots,” he said.

“McAuliffe bowled really well into the breeze and then with Thomas they made some errors trying to attack and we were able to get on top.”

In B-grade semi-finals, Chapman Valley-Northampton upset Towns at the Rec to win by three wickets while Bluff Point defeated Dongara by the same margin at Muir Park.

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