Pearce Cup Final – Preview

In a replay of the Ewen Chatfield Final Onslow and Eastern Suburbs will battle it at Nairnville Park for Pearce Cup supremacy. Eastern Suburbs hold the wood over Onslow in finals this season beating them in the One-Day final. Friday, Saturday, Sunday will be a very different task for both sides though and much of the week will have been used to think about how they will tackle the different prospect which is playing over 3 days instead of 2. Eastern Suburbs are no strangers to these games being involved in the last 15 and winning 14 of them, There is a slightly different feeling about this final though and with Eastern Suburbs needing to win outright it will be an interesting match.

Onslow will not be settling on their top qualifiers spot and playing for the draw will not be an option that even enters their head space. There is too much time over the 3 days to be thinking about not going for an outright victory. Playing at Nairnville Park on a wicket that will have been undercover for a couple of days will also help to producing what should be a thrilling encounter. Onslow got off to a slow start in the Pearce Cup and lost on first innings to Hutt District. This may have been the kick they needed as they then very nearly got an outright against Easts the next round in what was a pretty good performance and had they had another hour they probably would have won. They built on that performance the next round to convincingly beat Wellington Collegians before a small slip up at Alex Moore in round 4 meant they let the table tighten back up. This left them with a bit of work to do against Petone in the final round if they wanted to host the final. This flicked a switch for the side as they put in a very good performance to wrap up a big outright victory and gain top qualifying spot.

Eastern Suburbs had a positive start to their Pearce Cup campaign when they beat Petone on first innings in the first round. They then went through a little bit of a down patch as they lost on first innings to Onslow and then Hutt District. They looked like they would make it 3 first innings losses on the trot against Collegians before they pulled off a remarkable comeback to turn it around and win by 10 wickets. This gave them a big boost and then Ricky Joseph destroyed Johnsonville a week later to make sure they put a huge amount of pressure on Onslow if they wanted to host the final. After looking shaky during the middle of the season they came right to get through to their 16th consecutive Pearce Cup final. This experience will be valuable over the 3days.

Last time the two teams met in the round robin they were greeted with a soft green wicket. 19 wickets fell on the first day for just 250 runs. Onslow managed to grab a 5 run first innings lead. They arrived on day 2 to a harder wicket that didn’t do nearly as much. They scored 187 setting Eastern Suburbs 191 in 45 overs. A thrilling afternoon transpired as Onslow got very close to giving Eastern Suburbs their first outright loss in the Pearce Cup round robin for 8 years. They got Easts 8 down and if they had been half an hour to an hour more they may have got the result they wanted. It would be unlikely that their would be 19 wickets fall on Friday but you never know.

Both sides have named strong lineups for the final as you would expect. Eastern Suburbs have been able to call upon contracted Firebirds Jamie Gibson and Alecz Day. They will be without the star bowler of the past couple of weeks Ricky Joseph who has his sisters wedding. Their bowling will be spearheaded by Ili Tugaga, Peter Connell and Jamie Gibson with two very good spin options in Alecz Day and the skipper Lance Dry. They are also able to boast a fairly long and pretty powerful batting lineup which will come in handy. Onslow’s side mirrors that of Easts in a number of ways. A very balanced lineup with 3 front-line quicks and 3 spinners in their bowling line-up. They will have Malcolm Nofal fresh off 186 opening the batting for the side while they also have a strong batting line-up. Matt McEwan has been named in the squad with him a 50/50 chance of playing as a batsman only. There is not much to pick between the sides but Easts do have slightly more experience especially in these types of games on their side. You would expect Sean O’Connor to go into the final with no fear though and will have taken a number of learnings from their One-Day final loss at the end of January.

The final starts at 10:30 all 3 days and will be live scored on CricHQ.

Squad lists are as follows

Onslow: Sean O’Connor (c), Jake Bannatyne, Andrew Fletcher, Angus Henderson, Sam Keegan, Corey Larsen, Matthew McEwan, Arana Noema-Barnett, Malcolm Nofal, Daniel Pile, Alex Ridley, Daniel Rose, Ben Shields

Eastern Suburbs: Lance Dry (c), Ankur Bassi, Peter Connell, Alecz Day, Jeremy Dean, Andrew Fullerton-Smith, Chamika Gajanayaka, Jamie Gibson, Lauchie Johns, Jimad Khan, Sean Neal, Ili Tugaga

Umpires: Garth Stirrat & Jeremy Busby