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Helensburgh secures inaugural minor premiership

Ben MarcianteHelensburgh clinched their first top-grade minor premiership and set up a semi-final rematch with Balgownie following Saturday’s 15-run final round victory over the Magpies at Helensburgh Oval.

The top side all season, the Burgh were stretched hard by Bally in one of the most competitive one-dayers of the year.

Tight Bally bowling restricted the Burgh to 6-148, with Burgh skipper Ben Marciante (43) top-scorer and Jason Bunyan (2-15) and skipper James Fleming (2-44) bowling well for the visitors.

Balgownie (133 all out) couldn’t find enough partnerships and while Michael Stephenson (34) batted well, the Burgh bowlers did the job, led by Tim Lloyd’s 3-54.

“Being minor premiers is a terrific milestone for the club,” Marciante said.

“The club has come a long way in a few seasons and this is another step forward.

“We haven’t played a full day of our best cricket yet, so we know we can play better in the semis.”

Helensburgh now take on fourth-placed Bally at North Dalton Park this weekend, while second-placed Corrimal face University (third) in the other semi at Figtree Oval.

Corrimal, who were without their suspended skipper Rob Fisher, sealed a top-two spot with a seven wicket thrashing of Northern Districts at Hollymount Park.

Norths were bowled out in 35 overs for only 72, with Peter Kilby taking 4-15 and Xavier McDevitt 3-19.

McDevitt is Illawarra cricket’s leading wicket-taker with 47 scalps in 12 games.

Corrimal reached the target of 73 in just 18 overs with Joe McDevitt (30) top-scorer.

Fisher was suspended for two weeks for dissent following last week’s game against University, but is available if Corrimal qualify for the premiership decider.

Meanwhile, University marched into the semis in good form after a 180-run belting of Dapto at Uni Oval.

The Students posted 5-251, led by Taun Stanham’s 92 and 48 from Andrew Page and then dismissed Dapto for 71. Simon Irish took 6-26 for the Students.

Keira avoided the wooden spoon with home wins over Dapto and Wollongong in the final two rounds including a win by three wickets over the latter.

Troy Coleman took 5-28 for the Lions while Neel Honavar (34) top-scored in a fighting win. Wollongong skipper Dave Studholme (47) top-scored but his side finished last for the first time in many years.

Finally, Wests Illawarra ended the season with a 47-run victory over Port Kembla at Figtree Oval.

Batting first Wests posted 162, then rolled Port for 116.

Final ladder: Helensburgh 83, Corrimal 82, University 76, Balgownie 70, Port Kembla 49, Dapto 44, Northern Districts 43, Wests Illawarra 38, Keira 29, Wollongong 26.

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