A fairytale ending to the season has eluded Hoppers Crossing in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association.
The Cats were reminded of their place in the pecking order by a Williamstown side with prime position in the race for the north-west group premiership in a heavy 94-run loss in a one-day game at the Williamstown Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Cats captain-coach Greg Kennedy believed his side deserved a better end to the season, but acknowledged that Williamstown was a quality candidate for the flag.
Entering the final round, Hoppers Crossing was an extreme long shot to play in the finals.
Even if the Cats had won, they would have missed out on the final because of Yarraville’s win over Taylors Lakes.
But the Cats travelled to Williamstown knowing a win would give them a sneaky chance of playing in the finals, giving Kennedy the chance to assess his team in a pressure situation.
“There was some excitement, nervousness, apprehension – I’m not sure what it was – but we were just not quite on,” he said.
Williamstown made an imposing 6-233 off its 45 overs.
The Seagulls withstood some quality bowling from Hoppers Crossing, but were helped by the Cats’ sloppy fielding.
“We dropped a couple of catches and that was all she wrote against their quality players,” Kennedy said.
Brett Smith ended a break-out season for Hoppers Crossing with 3-39 off seven overs.
“I couldn’t be happier with his development as a player and he’ll be taking over the mantle next year as our premier fast bowler,” Kennedy said.
Hoppers Crossing’s run chase started promisingly, with opener Cameron Nicol (24) and first drop James Hook (26) ticking the scoreboard over at a high rate.
Once they were removed, the Cats’ innings fizzled out, with Brandon Diplock (26) making the only significant contribution thereafter.
While there’ll be no finals in the firsts, Kennedy insists the club has future-proofed itself.
The Cats will play second XI finals and most of their top 22 players are under 23.
“There’s not many old blokes like me taking up spots,” he said.
“We’re in a good development phase and we’re definitely a club that’s comfortable that we’re doing the right things for our future.”