Onslow batted all of day 3 to hang on for a draw against Eastern Suburbs and in the process secure their first ever Pearce Cup victory. The 3 day final got off to a damp start on day 1 with the Nairnville block retaining quite a bit of water from a heavy rain on Thursday. In the end the ground staff did a great job in getting the pitch and field ready for play at 12:15pm.
Lance Dry won the toss and had no hesitation in bowling first on a wicket that was hard but with being under cover for a day and a half would offer a bit to the bowlers early. After a cautious start by Onslow, Easts managed to grab a breakthrough in the 10th over with Jamie Gibson removing Dan Pile for just 5. Malcolm Nofal and Andrew Fletcher put on a brief partnership of 36 before both fell within 3 runs of each other. Easts then took the afternoon by the scruff of the neck with Ili Tugaga picking up Keegan and Noema-Barnett while Jamie Gibson removed Angus Henderson to leave Onslow in a hole at 90/6. Skipper Sean O’Connor and Ben Shields put on 46 for the 7th wicket to take Onslow to 136 before O’Connor was caught off the bowling of Alecz Day. Another crucial partnership of 40 between Jake Bannatyne and Shields followed before Day removed Bannatyne for 18. A 30 run 10th wicket partnership then helped Onslow through to 206 before top scorer Shields was last man out for 72 caught behind off the bowling of Tugaga to give him his 2nd consecutive Pearce Cup final 5 wicket bag.
Eastern Suburbs were 2.2 overs into their reply when bad light forced the sides off for the day. Easts would have been pleased to have got through that period for no loss of wickets. Easts began day 2 in a positive fashion making it through to 64 before losing Jeremy Dean for 28. Andrew Fullerton-Smith hung around for 10 overs before he too departed for 15. Chamika Gajanayaka was batting well at the other end though. He was joined by Jamie Gibson as the pair put on 57 for the 3rd wicket before both departed within an over of each other. Gakanayaka falling 20 runs short of his century. Easts then stumbled to 204/7 as Alecz Day, Jimad Khan and Sean Neal all fell for not many. Lauchie Johns and Lance Dry then put on 64 for the eight wicket before Johns was run out trying to bring up his half century. Dry continue with Tugaga this time to take Easts through to 327 before Tugaga fell for 25. Dry felt that was enough and with himself 55 not out proceed to declare the innings closed giving his bowlers 6 overs at Onslow before the close of play.
Those 6 overs were very effective for Easts as Peter Connell removed both Dan Pile and Dan Rose to leave Onslow 2 down at stumps and a big job ahead of them the next day. It was cucial for Onslow to get off to a good start on the third and final day if they were to have hopes of securing their first ever Pearce Cup title. Malcolm Nofal and Alex Ridley (nightwatchman) did just that proceeding to slowly pull the momentum back in Onslow’s favor. Nofal Departed for 61 with the scores all but back to level and it was left to the rest of the side to bat time and make sure they blunted any chance of Eastern Suburbs getting a sniff. First Ridley (67 off 126) and then Andrew Fletcher (54 off 212) made sure that this was exactly what was going to happen as they guts it out and played what was completely foreign to both of them. Sam Keegan(41 off 85) and Arana Noema-Barnett (48 off 93) both contributed to the afternoon. With the score on 345 and Onslow 220 ahead Lance Dry extended his hand to Sean O’Connor and the match was complete and Onslow were the Pearce Cup Champions for 2015/16.
Eastern Suburbs fought hard but were always under pressure to produce the result and with the wicket being very after friendly after day 1 made that very difficult. Onslow were deserved winners and have set the pace for much of the season. A young side that will look to replicate the feats of Eastern Suburbs. Easts now turn their attention to the National Club Championships which start in Auckland on the 5th of April. Eastern Suburbs won the right to go to these as the Ewen Chatfield Trophy winners.
Scorecard from the final: https://www.crichq.com/#matches/362379/1st_innings