By Mark Heenan
Ocean Grove will meet rivals Barwon Heads in a mouth-watering semi-final clash this weekend after the Grubbers sacrificed a top-two finish during its win over Portarlington on Saturday.
The last home and away season game reached a thrilling climax with top three BPCA A1 teams Anglesea, Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove all jostling for a top two finals spot and right to host a home final.
Minor premier Anglesea, Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove finished the season on 63 points.
The Grubbers narrowly missed out on second spot by 0.0082 per cent from Barwon Heads.
When Ocean Grove bowled Portarlington out for 162 on first innings the Grubbers had a top two finish clinched, however a bold decision to send the Demons back in for a second innings in pursuit of quick wickets to overtake Anglesea from top spot backfired.
Portarlington finished at 0/40 from nine overs in its second dig.
The Grubbers needed at least three wickets in Portarlington’s second innings to have a chance to grab top spot.
Anglesea thrashed fourth placed Jan Juc by 171 runs to cement top spot, while second-placed Barwon Heads defeated Collendina by 106 runs.
“The aim behind it was to regain top spot, which, if we had taken the wickets ,we would have been a chance,” Ocean Grove A1 bowler Lindon Giuffrida said.
“We didn’t expect (Jan) Juc to roll over so easily.”
Nevertheless, the Grubbers coasted to a 134-run victory against the Demons on first innings despite a masterclass innings from champion Portarlington all-rounder Paul McGrath on day two.
On the day of his 42nd birthday, McGrath was simply brilliant with his knock of 110 despite being dropped twice in the 30s.
It was McGrath’s second ton this season after his 128 against Barrabool in round six.
“It was a magnificent innings,” Ocean Grove Cricket Club captain coach of Paul Jubber said.
“Well done to ‘Poudge’ – probably the most highly respected cricketer on the Bellarine and it was a privilege to watch him bat.”
Grubber all-rounder Sam Jubber was destructive with the ball and claimed his first five-wicket haul this season with 5/35 from 12 overs.
“He (Sam) has probably gone unrewarded the last few games – we are super pleased for him to take some wickets and come into finals with good form,” said Paul Jubber.
Ocean Grove was dominant on day one after it amassed 6/296 from 75 overs as middle order batsman Shaun Fankhauser (110) scored his maiden ton for the club.
It was Ocean Grove’s highest team score in 2018/19.
“Amazing knock – we rallied around ‘Red’ a couple of weeks ago,” Jubber said.
“He hasn’t had a great year, after the Barwon Heads game there was some home truths told and he got the full support of the playing group and consequently he came out did the job for us.”
Barwon Heads defeated Ocean Grove by four wickets in its most recent two-day outing on 16 February, while the Grubbers won against the Seagulls by eight wickets in their one-day game on 19 January.
IN other developments, Jubber said the Grubbers will include assistant playing coach Anton Scholtz (injured) and star all-rounder Matt Caulfield (unavailable) who both did not play against Portarlington, in a squad of 13 for the knockout semi-final against Barwon Heads.
He remains confident of a better showing against the Seagulls this weekend.
“We are looking forward to playing them – we have got some unfinished business,” Jubber said.
“We like to think our depth will shine through and when the pressure is really on we’ll be the team to be beat.”
LITTLE River’s first XI claimed an outright victory over Ocean Grove in A2 by an innings and 83 runs in A2 on Saturday.
Batting first at Little River Reserve Ocean Grove was all out for 82.
In reply Little River made 6 declared for 310.
In the second dig the Grubbers were all out for 165.
Grubber all rounder Jackson Kent was a shining light with scores 58 and 28 and 4/89.
The Ocean Grove A2 second XI team finished the season in seventh spot with four wins 10 losses.
OCEAN Grove missed out on a C1 finals berth after its narrow 10-run loss to Little River at Ocean Grove Memorial Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
Chasing for 184 for victory and a finals’ spot the Grubbers were all out for 173 from 50.3 overs.
At 9/96, the Grubbers looked out of the contest however a 77-run tenth wicket stand between Greg Scarpa (87) and Ned Thorley (6 not out) helped rescued the home side despite the team falling shy of victory.
A win for the Grubbers would have ensured a finals berth.
Ocean Grove C1 finished the season in fifth spot with a 7-7 record.
QUEENSCLIFF defeated Ocean Grove by two wickets in their D Grade one-day clash at Charles McCarthy Memorial Oval on Saturday.
The Grubbers made 8/174 and in reply Queenscliff finished at 8/175 and won with four overs to spare.
The D Grade Grubbers finished the season in eighth spot with seven wins and 10 losses.