Gympie Gold XI player Troy Ashton.
Gympie Gold XI player Troy Ashton. Craig Warhurst

History awaits Gympie Gold XI

CRICKET: Maroochydore Blue and Gympie will meet in the Sunshine Coast division one grand final after comprehensive wins in the semi-finals over Glasshouse and Caboolture at the weekend.

At Maroochydore, the minor premier batted after winning the toss against Glasshouse and ended day one at 9/314, led by skipper Craig Davies with 81, and 76 from Dan Hall.

The resulting 319 looked too big a task for the Rangers yesterday and so it proved.

The top order was determined to go into the final session with wickets in hand but runs were also needed.

Partnerships from Dan Cahill, Lachie Pill and Jeremy Schultz looked to break out, until Chris Welsh bowled a spell of 15 overs, 10 maidens, one for nine to all but shut down one end.

At tea, Glasshouse was 4/130, needing 190 off the remaining 31 overs.

When the wickets of Cahill, then Schultz fell under acceleration, the incomers had lost any momentum, and the slump from 3/129 to all out 162 was terminal. Meanwhile, Gympie won the call and batted against Caboolture in the other semi-final, with time off to rain after the Gold had reached 1/19 in 16 overs.

On resumption the visitors lost Lewis Waugh immediately and the top order followed for Gympie to be 6/61 in the 44th over.

A fight back by Troy Ashton, 63, and Dan Shepperson, 30, carried the visitors to 141 before being all out for 158, with Toby Millard's 4/54 the best bowling return.

After bad light stopped play on Saturday Caboolture was 1/20, looking for a sixth successive grand final spot.

But finally, the Gold prevailed over both the top order and the Snakes' usual saviours in the tail.

Dean Chandler was the early hero, adding Rod Gibbs and Jacob Wilson to his overnight success, then four more went in the space of 17 runs.

A card of 5/33 has often been the cue for a Snakes rearguard to 200 but now the Gold was unstoppable searching for the mental domination so often denied by Caboolture.

At 94 it was complete, with Chandler's 4/15 a homeward bus favourite over the more regularly lauded bowlers.

A minor miracle may have seen the Snakes escape, as the lead was 64 with nearly two sessions to play, but the Gympie batsmen had confidence now and forged to 2/123, when Caboolture skipper Rod Gibbs closed proceedings with his first over of the season and the last of his Sunshine Coast career.

Three times in a row the Snakes have prevailed in the season final over Gympie, now the Gold meets Maroochydore in their first such clash.

Gympie all-rounder Troy Ashton spoke with The Gympie Times yesterday after his important knock guided the Gympie innings home and said that the squad was finally ready for a premiership.

"It is the first time we have played Maroochydore Blue in a grand final, but if we can take the form we showed on the weekend into the game we should come close to beating them," Ashton said.

"Losing to Caboolture in the last round by only nine runs was a kick in the guts," he said.

With the feeling in the camp ahead of the clash at an all time high, a premiership may just be around the corner.