Just when the unbeaten Diamond Creek was at its most vulnerable, the minor premiers demonstrated the steely nerve and discipline of a great side to recover and go on to win a Grand Final berth at the expense of Epping. The Creek was in unfamiliarly stormy waters at 6/57 but Tom McLean summoned another brilliant performance with the willow to save his side. McLean hit his third ton of the season as the Creek ended the day at 8/200 with a reliable bowling unit at its back. Epping lost wickets and early and never regained the ascendancy; with its best efforts defied by the Creek, their season petered out at the hands of Dale Campbell (3/15) and Luke Campitelli (3/40).
Macleod has won its chance to redeem its Grand Final defeat last season after defying the odds to defeat Rosanna by 23 runs. It was all up to the Eagles’ bowlers on Day Two after Scott Dunbar (4/38), Nick Carlton (2/3) and Oliver Toussaint (2/20) suffocated their batsmen to just 141. Tim Wise was the pick of the Macleod bowlers with 4/31 and was ably supported by Glen Rigg 3/27 and Daniel O’Leary 2/21.
A week after scraping through to the finals, Lower Plenty won its way through to the Money Shield Grand Final with a five-wicket win over Eltham. The Lions’ bowlers took on arguably the most in-form batting line-up in the competition and captain Josh Henkel reduced the Panthers to rubble: the skipper finished with figures of 6/38 off 18 overs as only Glen Turner (59) was able to resist a powerhouse performance in the field. However, Lower Plenty was made to earn its win after collapsing to 4/24. Nathan Gardiner (43 not out) was the hero with the bat, leading the way to victory.
The Heidelberg juggernaut has rolled past Banyule and into the Grand Final. After his side lost the toss and was sent in to bowl, Jack Ridewood conjured a tremendous bowling performance on the big stage as he and Heidelberg had Banyule at 8/26 at one stage. Ridewood finished with career-best figures of 7/35 off 30 overs as the Bears fought back well to bat their 80 overs and reach 9/146. Pete Cashen (61) made light work of the run chase with his sixth half-century of the season with captain Justin Whitcher adding 38 runs beside him. The win is Heidelberg’s sixth in a row and sees them enter the Grand Final against Lower Plenty at full confidence.
Research Eltham Collegians will be looking for a return to Money Shield after winning its way through to the Grand Final with a six-wicket victory over Panton Hill. The Collegians demonstrated their home ground expertise on the slow field at Eltham College, restricting the Redbacks to 110 on the first day before steadily reeling in the total over a drizzly second day.
Laurimar made its maiden finals berth in Mash Shield and took it a step further with a 46-run win over Hurstbridge. Ash Williams (63), Rian Boddy (45) and Mick Peters (43) carried their side’s white-hot batting form into the big time as Laurimar set Hurstbridge a daunting target of 228. Not to be easily outdone, the Bridgers fought to the end but were outgunned by the size of the chase and a four-wicket haul from Josh Deans-Draper.