Lavington is through to its first grand final in four years.
The Panthers ended Belvoir’s premiership reign by scoring a thrilling win by 12 runs.
Sam Harris sealed the win with a superb catch, dismissing the dangerous Mick Russell.
“He ran under it at the start, but he had to run back and he caught it one-handed,” Lavington coach Robbie Mackinlay said.
“(CAW chairman) Michael Erdeljac was standing there at that end, he said it was the best catch he’d seen.”
Lavington compiled 201 on day one, with Chris Galvin hitting 50.
Harris showed his class in a big match by posting his highest score of the year with 46, while Sam O’Connor (31) and Brett Davies (24) chipped in as well.
Belvoir captain Matt Jaensch was outstanding, taking 5-66 from 27.2 overs as the Panthers lost 8-63, falling from 2-138.
Key Lavington all-rounder Nathan Brown injured his thigh when taking off for his first run, and was unable to bowl in Belvoir’s innings.
It meant his brother Ryan and Davies had to carry the workload, which the pair did admirably, bowling the team to victory.
Former NSW Country paceman Davies was superb, finishing with 6-52 from 27.2 overs, while Brown snared 2-37 from 18.
“It’s probably the best win I’ve had at the club since I’ve been here,” Mackinlay said.
He was an assistant when the Panthers last won in 2012-13, but has been the head coach since.
The visitors struck early on day two, with Belvoir at 3-22.
But its batting depth came to the fore when Drew Cameron and Irishman Aaron Gillespie combined for 64 runs as they pushed the score to 86.
“They did take the game away from us a bit, the last 30 minutes before tea Cameron and Gillespie took over,” Mackinlay said.
“The tea break was a good time for us and we reloaded.”
But when Gillespie fell, the classy Nat Sariman and Cameron put on another 60 runs.
However, the Eagles lost 6-43 to fall short.
Cameron batted superbly, coming in during the first over, before falling in the 72nd over for a well-compiled 76.
Remarkably, Lavington is through to the decider after it crept into finals by 0.02 points.
“We had three balls left in the season and we weren’t in the finals,” Mackinlay said.
“People thought we were a bit harsh complaining that we’d won four more games than the opposition (St Patrick’s) heading into finals.
“But that’s why we were so concerned if we didn’t make finals, it would have been a hard thing to handle.”
The Panthers will now be desperately hoping Nathan Brown can overcome his injury.
Article: Courtesy The Border Mail by Andrew Moir