Third Grade's Road to Grand Final31-Mar-2016
Third Grade get a shot at redemption this weekend after last year's Grand Final loss to Manly, but are up against their nemesis from last season's entertaining Qualifying Final, Sydney Uni in what looks to be another close encounter. It has been a bumpier road to this year's Grand Final, but things are shaping up to go one better. We have taken time out to ask captain Angus Palmer on his thoughts on the season and this weekend:
1. Last year's Grand Final loss was heart breaking for your team, how much has this motivated you this season?
A Grand Final loss certainly makes you that much hungrier the following season. After dominating the entire season last year, it was a real case of 'what if' after going down in the season decider. But that's all history now. We'll have five or six players playing this weekend who were part of that loss so I'm sure it will motivate them and they will be that much more ready for this weekend. The say, you have to lose a Grand Final to win one....I hope that rings true this weekend.
2. After last season's success, what's been different about this season so far?
Admittedly we haven't been as dominant through the regular season as last year. Other sides were clearly ready for us this year, but that has hopefully toughened us up and made us learn to grind when the match was in the balance or when we were behind. In terms of the players, last year our team energy helped us immensely, while this season we certainly have more experience with all players in my side now having had a taste of First and/or Second Grade.
3. What are your teams most memorable performances?
This year we have won all bar one of our close matches, winning two matches by 1 wicket and one match by 2 runs. These results count for a lot at the end of the season. The win against Gordon was certainly satisfying and the potential pivotal point of the season after a low period earlier in the season with two consecutive losses. Our performances against UNSW and then Sydney on the weekend where we utterly dominated other top 6 side was very satisfying. While our win 1 wicket against Mosman was an example of the resolve we have after being behind in the game and fighting back to win it at such a crucial time in the season.
4. It's fair to say Sydney Uni won pretty comfortably when you played them. What will be different this time?
I always had a feeling we'd cross paths during the finals, it was just a question of when. We were poor against them first round back after xmas and my side certainly knew my thoughts on our performance that day. The big difference is that was a one day game and half my team was still in holiday mode. In terms of team personnel, both sides would have also changed significantly. A week is a long time in sport, let alone three months.
5. Team spirit is always key in successful teams... Who have been the real characters that make the side what it is?
The team spirit has been fantastic and my players have certainly enjoyed each other's company. We have a variety of characters in the side and it always makes down time in the game interesting. For example, we have seen Sam Reading really come out of his shell the past couple of weeks. He has gone from being a Green Keeper to learning to be a Personal Trainer and firmly believes he is now the alpha male because he does weights a couple of times a week.
6. Are there a couple of individual performances that come to mind?
Every bowler has had a standout performance where they have taken a five or six wicket haul and effectively won us the game. If I was to highlight one individual bowling moment, it was when Tom Skelly outfoxed 'The Grade Cricketer' author against Gordon with a confronting bit of bowling.....we're just waiting on the tweet from him about that awkward occasion. In terms of the batting, Ben Bryant's 130 not out against Gordon or Alex Tunnadine's 110 against Wests come to mind as standout batting performances. But perhaps in terms of crucial partnerships the 150 run partnership between Ollie Maxwell and Prinya Kham after being 4-40 against the Hawks was crucial as was the 110 run opening stand against St George between James Deacon and Sam Pointer.
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