Title reign years in the making for Tweed
A PLAN launched to deliver Tweed's first ever Country Cup cricket title has paid dividends, with Tweed District lifting the title aloft.
After years of falling agonisingly short of winning the statewide competition, the side secured the title with a six-wicket victory over Tamworth in Grafton last Friday, led by a man-of-the-match performance by Cudgen's Caleb Ziebell.
Tweed District captain Jayden Hoare paid tribute to his side.
Hoare, who played for the Gold Coast Dolphins and abroad before returning to Pottsville six seasons ago, said the win was the culmination of years of hard work.
"We've been building for a while for this and we've been striving every year to get there, ” Hoare said.
"Tate Burns, James Julius, and the guys that have been playing reps for seven to eight years, it's great to see the smile on those rep veterans faces.
"The generations before couldn't quite get there either, so it's an awesome achievement.”
Tweed dominated the second half of the final at Ellem Oval after being sent into bowl by Tamworth.
They set their win up by suffocating Tamworth's batsmen, despite Tamworth wicketkeeper and NSW Country representative Tom Groth hitting an unbeaten 64, to drive Tamworth to 8/208 after their 50 overs.
Connor Ziebell was the pick of the Tweed bowlers with 3/54, while brother Caleb also troubled Tamworth's batsmen.
Strong knocks by Caleb Ziebell (59), Doug Potter (49no) and Adam Rogers (40no) secured the landmark victory for the loss of only four wickets.
Hoare said the victory was in part due to the team's self belief, which was strengthened during the semi-final against Bathurst in which Tweed survived an early scare.
After being set a modest target of 143, Tweed almost capitulated after an early batting collapse, with Hoare (10), Caleb Ziebell (0) and Tait Burns (0) all dismissed cheaply.
Doug Potter (62) and Jamie Bennett (34) were able to combine for 96 runs to drive Tweed to 5/144 in the 32nd over to book their spot in the final.
"We didn't start the best, but we wrestled the momentum back and got back into the game and from there we didn't take the foot off the throat,” Hoare said.
The side had an edge over Tamworth leading into the grand final, having gotten a feel for Ellem Oval in the semi, while Tamworth had played nearby at McKittrick Park.
"We knew it would take them time to adjust, but we knew from playing there how it would play,” Hoare said.
Tweed were able to get onto the front foot, dismissing Tamworth's openers for just eight runs, before Tamworth piled on 120 runs for their next four wickets.
Tweed were able to take the ascendancy to secure the landmark title.
"It was always going to be an arm wrestle and the pressure was on, but we had to dig deep,” Hoare said.
"We're a young side and we just want to compete, win, and be successful.”
Hoare said Tweed representative cricket's youth who drove the title charge had been injected after some hard truths were faced.
He said the decision to blood younger players could set the Tweed up for a potential golden era.
"The older heads recognised we had good players coming through and we needed to give them the chance,” Hoare said.
"We got them in while they were keen and they'll serve us well now for the next five to ten years. A lot of boys are saying we need to go back to back now, so that's the challenge.”
Cudgen and Pottsville resume LJ Hooker League cricket this weekend against Alstonville and Ballina Bears respectively.