Scott Coombes scored a vital 21 for Albion Park in their win over Shellharbour which earned the Park a semi-final spot. Picture: SYLVIA LIBERAlbion Park have waited all season to crack the top four but only sealed a semi-final spot on the final day, with first innings victory over Shellharbour at Keith Grey Oval.
The defending premiers faced bottom-placed Shellharbour in the final round with the winner to clinch fourth spot, but loser set to be relegated to First Grade next season.
Following a roller-coaster opening day, the Park resumed at 6-87, needing another 29 runs for first innings victory and the prize of fourth spot.
The Park’s lower-order stood firm, led by Scott Coombes (21) and passed Harbour’s 115 before being bowled out for 134.
Shellharbour were left needing an outright win and led by Ken Nguyen’s aggressive 59, declared at 5-164 to give themselves 36 overs to bowl out the Park.
With the home side 0-57, both teams shook hands leaving the Park to take on minor premiers Lake Illawarra in the semi-finals this weekend.
Shellharbour managed only one win all season and will be relegated to First Grade, if either The Rail or Gerringong win the First Grade grand final.
Albion Park began the final round fifth in the six team Premier League with Eagles president Terry Burns admitting it was “strange” to face a relegation or semi-final scenario in the final round.
“Winning only two games for the season we should be happy to make the semis,” Burns said.
“It’s a strange situation. But no one expected us to be premiers last season and we got there and we’re looking forward to playing Lake now in a semi-final.”
In the other final round matches, Lake Illawarra crushed Kookas at Oakleigh Park.
Needing an unlikely win to take fourth spot, Kookas were bowled out for 38 chasing 207 for victory.
The home side were 8-14 before Shaun Ryan’s unbeaten 16 at least ensured the home side didn’t have to check for an unwanted batting record.
Greg Connor (5-14) and Aaron Henry (4-19) delivered the Lakers victory in 17 overs.
Finally, Oak Flats beat Kiama outright with the clubs to meet again in the semi-finals at Geoff Shaw Oval this weekend.
Oak Flats took first innings points but were dismissed for 117 on day two, leaving Kiama needing 176 for victory.
The Cavaliers were dismissed for 132.
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