SHOALHAVEN Ex-Servicemen have managed to go through the whole season undefeated and their skipper David Sloane is hoping they have one more win in them when they host Nowra at Hayden Drexel Oval.
Their impressive run did appear to be in jeopardy during the semi-final, where they lost the first innings against Berry-Shoalhaven Heads, before coming back to win outright.
While an outright win looked unlikely at one stage, Sloane never thought a comeback was out of the question.
“I’ve played long enough to know it’s not over until the final ball and we fought back extremely well,” he said.
“Getting to the grand final is really half the battle, we’ve done that part and I’d say we’re confident enough going into it,” he added.
Sloane said he is not surprised to see Nowra make it to the decider, but they are a little bit unknown, as the two sides have played limited cricket against each other this season.
“We actually haven’t played them much this season.
“We had a match abandoned in one game and a close win in a one-dayer the other time.
“That’s not really indicative of how we’ll go over two days of finals cricket.”
The weather in the lead up to this weekend’s grand finals has been less than ideal, but Sloane said they need to treat it as if there will be two full days of cricket and only worry about what they can control.
If the game goes ahead and Ex-Servos win, it will be a record fourth consecutive title.
It is something that would be particularly special for Sloane and teammates James Spackman and Kieran Witt, who are the only ones to have played in all four.
Another player in the Ex-Servos line up who will be hoping for a win is allrounder Dean Trost, who will retire after the game.
“He has been an outstanding cricketer over the years with the Australian Defence Force team, some clubs in Queensland and Rugby Union before he joined Ex-Servicemen,” Sloane said.
“Hopefully we can give him the proper send off that a player of his class deserves.”
But it is not just Ex-Servos who are looking for a fitting farewell, with a number of Nowra players also expected to move on at the end of the season.
Nowra skipper Jono Clack said they will lose Rhys Fagerlund and Jordan Pearson to the navy and Justin Wallace to the army and would love to send them off with a win.
While Ex-Servos have a number of older heads, Nowra’s team is almost exclusively 23 and under and Clack and Wallace are the only two remaining players from their last premiership winning team.
The odds may be stacked against them, but Clack said they would be absolutely stoked if they can manage to pull it off.
“It’d be unreal, especially for the guys that are going off to join the Defence Force,” he said.
“We’re all a good bunch of mates and it would give them the send off they deserve,” he added.
Clack said they take plenty of confidence from their semi final win over Ulladulla, where Jordan Pearson starred with seven wickets.
Their batting stocks have also received a boost, with Sam Watts and Adam Ison both expected to be able to play.
“Batting has been a bit of a weak point this season, so that gives us a big boost.
“We can always contain teams with the ball, but I’m hoping we can get some runs on the board and put the pressure back on them.”
At the time we spoke Clack the result of the Ex-Servos and Berry semi-final was in dispute, and had unfortunately not been heard by the judiciary at the time of publication.
However, Clack said this has not affected their preparation, as they have no special tactics for either team.
“In the end we’ve got to play someone, so all we can do is pick our best team,” he said.
“With all the rain we’ve had, I just hope we actually get the opportunity to play.
“We’d be more disappointed if we didn’t get on at all than if we actually got to play but lost.
“We’d at least like the chance to have a crack at it.”
Pat’s tip: Ex-Servos
Gillian’s tip: Nowra