A DISCIPLINED bowling performance has lifted Mortlake to its sixth premiership in seven years.
The Cats defeated Heytesbury Rebels by 53 runs at S.A. Wright Oval on Saturday in hot conditions.
Mortlake batted first after winning the toss, posting a score of 9/173 from their 50 overs, led by 60 from man of the match Shane Slater.
Clinton Baker (32) and Neil Kelly (29) also made scores for Mortlake, while Paul Vogels (4/31) and Chris Dendle (3/29) took seven wickets between them.
Heytesbury made a strong fightback with the ball after Mortlake was 2/103, taking 9/70 in the last 17 overs to sway the game’s momentum.
However, the first ten overs of their batting innings did not go to script for the Rebels, losing three early wickets including opening batsman Simon Harkness (two) and skipper Jeff Rosolin (nine).
Mortlake’s bowling prowess started to shine through the next 20 overs of the match, as they limited the Rebels’ ability to score.
They built consistent pressure through this period by taking regular wickets, with the Rebels losing 5/47 to be 7/67 after 30 overs of play.
The Rebels lost their eighth wicket on the stroke of the second drinks break and at 8/70, victory was clearly in Mortlake’s grasp.
But a strong fightback between Travis Brown (42 not out) and Sam Newey (18) gave the Rebels hope, moving their side from 8/70 to 8/120 with eight overs of play left.
However, Todd Lamont (3/17) broke that partnership with the first ball of the 43rd over by bowling Newey and then two balls later trapped Bayley Thompson leg before wicket to hand the Cats victory.
Lamont, now a six-time premiership captain, said the core group of players at the club when he started out as skipper had been crucial to the club’s current wave of success.
He said there was a mixture of 17 to 21 year-olds along with a few older and experienced cricketers within the club’s ranks that could build a winning culture.
“We had a really good group of guys that could play a lot of cricket together if we all stuck together,” Lamont said.
“We identified that early on and we were fortunate enough to play in a grand final, probably when we hadn’t quite earned it.
“We got there and we got a taste for it and we lost two (grand finals) to start with and it just made everyone really hungry.
“And once you get that taste for it, you don’t want to let it go, you don’t want anyone else to taste it.”
Lamont said the return of Tyler Schafer and the emergence of Isaac Wareham along with their team-mates’ ability to play their roles had driven the Cats to glory throughout the season.
That included winning the league’s Twenty20 title before taking out the Sungold Twenty20 on Australia Day.
The skipper said his side would enjoy the spoils of victory and reflect on their season for the time being before regrouping in an attempt to add to their silverware next year.
He said that his side would come back “hungrier than ever” in an effort to extend the club’s current premiership run.
“We’ll just enjoy the next couple of days and the next couple of weeks,” Lamont said.
“You never know when it’s going to be your last, I say that every year, and we all know that.
“But when we took that last wicket, there’s no better feeling and we just want to experience that while we’ve got the players there.”
Despite being disappointed to lose, Rosolin said that he still believed the Rebels were capable of pulling off an unlikely victory despite having only two wickets in hand.
“There was still a glimmer of hope when Sam and Trav were still in and it was down to 50 runs, but unfortunately we lost the last couple,” Rosolin said.
“I thought we were good enough to win it today (Saturday) but we just didn’t come away with it.”
Slater, who also took a wicket, said it was “excellent” to win another flag but praised his side for remaining upbeat when things were not going their way.
“It was a really tough day, Heytesbury are a good side and they bowled well and batted well towards the end,” he said.
“I think our ability to stay in there, particularly when things didn’t look like they were going alright (was a big key to victory).”
Mortlake will recap their season this Friday night with a presentation dinner.