Stockton & Northern Districts have ended a 17 year Newcastle First Grade title drought stretching back to the 2004-05 season with victory over Hamilton-Wickham in a rain affected final which was played at Stockton's picturesque Lynn Oval.
Stockton & Northern Districts celebrate their premiership
Stockton skipper Nick Foster won the toss and decided to bat first on a tacky Lynn Oval wicket after rain during the week had hampered wicket preparations. Foster's decision had looked to backfire early as the Seagulls slumped to 3 for 33 with Moody, Foster and Hainsworth all dismissed cheaply. A steadying partnership of 42 between experienced middle order duo Jeff Goninan (28) and Adrian Chad (28) was just what the doctor ordered until they were both dismissed in quick succession to leave Stockton & Northern Districts on reeling at 5 for 83. A cockahoop Hamilton-Wickham appeared happy to have lost the coin toss and take first use of exploiting the bowler friendly conditions but they couldn't quite capitalise on the early inroads that were made as the Stockton & Northern Districts lower order rallied with Brendon Charlton scoring a valuable 20 runs and Jared Humphreys a fine 35. Humphreys was the last man out when the score on 150 as he combined with Daniel Foster for a last wicket partnership of 21.
Seagulls skipper blazes a square drive off Sam Webber
Hamilton Wickham veteran fast bowler Sam Webber in his last match before retirement was outstanding with the red kookaburra ball in hand taking 4 for 42 from 23 typically threatening overs.
Hamilton-Wickham started strongly in response and moved quickly and comfortably to 11 runs without loss before Seagulls opening bowler Brendon Charlton removed opener Matt Shaw who was bowled for 3 which triggered a collapse with both Jack Hartigan and Rhys Hanlon quickly following Shaw back to the pavilion as Charlton ran riot with the ball to leave Hamwicks 3 for 12. At the end of day one Hamilton-Wickham finished at 3 for 20 and still 130 runs in arrears with skipper Ben Balcomb and allrounder Tom Dwyer at the crease.
Overnight rain and persistant drizzle meant a delayed start at Lynn Oval. When play got underway Hamwicks quickly moved to 39 with a flurry of boundaries as they looked to shift the momentum of the match and put pressure back on the Seagulls bowlers before Charlton struck again by removing the dangerous Dwyer for 18. Veteran all rounders Matt Webber and Sam Webber quickly followed suit with Matt sensationally run out with a direct hit by Jared Humphreys and Sam Webber stumped with the score on 48 in a sharp piece of awareness by young wicketkeeper Jake Hainsworth.
At 6 for 48 and the only noted batter being skipper Ben Balcomb left at the crease, the Stockton & Northern Districts bowlers moved in for the kill but were initially twarted by a circumspect seventh wicket partnership of 24 between Balcomb and Matthew Le Bas before Le Bas was caught and bowled by Jared Humphreys with the score on 72. Harry Dwyer quickly followed with to give Humphreys his second wicket before Hamwicks skipper Balcomb was caught at long on off the bowling of Brendon Charlton trying to move the score along quickly. The wicket of Balcomb gave Charlton his fifth wicket of the innings in a fine perfomance.
With Balcomb dismissed the Hamwicks innings was quickly wrapped up for 82 in fading light by spinner Daniel Foster who had Shaun Burgess caught at first slip to give the Seagulls a first innings lead of 68 runs.
Stockton opener Keith Moody survives an appeal
With 73 overs in the match remaining and Hamwicks skipper Ben Balcomb hoping to be able to chase an outright win in the remaining overs Stockton were asked to bat again. Opener Keith Moody was dismissed off the second ball of the innings without scoring by Sam Webber before play was stopped one ball later for bad light.
Unfortunately no further play was possible on the remaing two scheduled reserve playing days after a week of torrential rain.
After winning on first innings, Stockton & Northern Districts broke a first grade title drought stretching back to the 2004-05 season.
Seagulls allrounder Brendon Charlton was named the Ken Clifford medalist for his fine allround performance of 20 runs and 5 wickets.