Upper Hunter District Cricket Association preparing for weekend of grand finals

FINAL FIGHT: Steve Clydsdale and Jon Osmond will face off on Saturday in the 2018/19 season grand final.
FINAL FIGHT: Steve Clydsdale and Jon Osmond will face off on Saturday in the 2018/19 season grand final.

AFTER twenty weeks of cricket it all comes down to this, one day, six teams and three trophies to be won.

The A, B, and C grade grand finals will all be held on Saturday and bragging rights are very much up for grabs in each division.

Most eyes will be on the main event at Saunders Oval in Scone, which will be played between minor premiers Merriwa and challengers Rouchel, who upset Murrurundi by a comprehensive seven wickets at the weekend.

Merriwa have had two weeks rest after a bye last round and a wash out victory in the semi-finals, while the opposition will come in with match practice having played and won both matches over the last fortnight at very ground the decider will be hosted at.

Both captains are confident of their chances but were hesitant to make any outlandish comments given how tight the season has been in 2018/19.

"We're feeling okay, but it's a different ball game when it comes to finals so we'll see how it goes on the day I suppose," said Merriwa captain and president, Jon Osmond.

He said it has been over three decades since the club last picked up an A grade title, which has sent the anticipation levels through the roof ahead of the match.

"Everyone is feeling pretty good but ahead of the game everyone gets a bit of nerves so there's no doubt that will creep in," he said.

Rouchel president Steve Clydsdale said they are taking momentum into the decider and hopes that will have a significant impact in their efforts to bring home their first title since the 2014/15 season.

"We're pretty confident after two solid wins," he said.

"Last week we were pretty convincing in the end, we got them just three [wickets] down with ten over to spare so we're feeling confident."

Osmond said he does have one headache ahead of the final, but that it was a good one to have.

"We've got a full squad to choose from, like in any finals everybody is knocking down the door to play so that's when it becomes hard, when you have to sit blokes out," he said.

Rouchel will also go in with their first choice team, with Clydsdale revealing Brett Hails will miss out following the return of Tony Burnett who has missed a couple weeks with an ankle injury.

In the B grade final the Bushrangers will take on the reigning reserve premiers, the Belmore Bulls, in a repeat of the fixture from last year.

The Belltrees side has only been in the competition for two years and are desperate to pick up their first piece of silverware, while the Scone team is hoping to hold onto the trophy despite finishing below their opponents on the table.

"I wouldn't say we're underdogs, we've beaten them once and they've beat us once this season," said Bulls' president Gavin Newton-Smith.

"I'd say we're almost favourites going in on a turf pitch, if it were synthetics it'd probably be a different story but I back our side to knock them over."

The Bushrangers skipper, Jake Teague, said the evenness of the competition has made any prediction hard to make.

"I wouldn't say we're favourites, I think between us and the Bulls either of us could've made the A grade competition and ruffled some feathers up there as well," he said.

"But I think we're pretty tightly matched teams to tell you the truth, it'll depend on the day."

In the 'spoon playoff', Brook Silver will take on Brook Blue to decide who has to cop the tag of wooden spooners for the season.

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