LEAGUES Club proved last week’s drought-breaking win was no fluke, shocking Exies in a seven-wicket victory on Saturday night at Exies Oval.
Despite taking on what coach Jeff McKenna described as Griffith’s best team on paper, the young Panthers caused their second upset in as many weeks in another sign local cricket’s established order has been torn to shreds.
It was built on a tight, disciplined performance with the ball, with Luke Peruzzi (3-22) again the star of the show.
Without regular openers Justin Winkler and Phil Burge, Exies skipper Marc Tucker won the toss and chose to bat first – but he quickly found himself out in the middle with his side struggling at 3-41.
Tucker (44) was the only Exies bat who found his range, and once he was caught off Raj Singh (2-22), his side was on the ropes.
Peruzzi removed stand-in openers Jamie Winkler (0) and D Brown (5) while Connor Matheson kept the pressure on with a tight six-over spell, finishing with 1-16.
“It was a team thing, all about pressure,” said Adam Izzard, who skippered Leagues in the absence of star recruit Paul Plummer.
“It was pressure with our bowling and pressure in the field, no different to last week.
“I think there’s a bit of surprise involved in that, too – the kids are another year older and it’s not that sides are taking us lightly, but they don’t know what they’re capable of.
“Last year and this year we’ve had half the Murrumbidgee side in 16s and 17s, so it’s been a matter of getting used to senior cricket.
“Luke Peruzzi bowled exceptionally well, Connor bowled tight and everyone just kept to those really tight lines and kept the pressure on.
“That was the difference.”
Leagues were just as good with the bat in their chase of the required 106 to win.
The Panthers of last season would have fallen in a heap in pursuit of such an achievable total, but this time they kept their cool against Exies’ star-studded attack.
Opener Luke Matheson (33 not out) and Jimmy Binks (32 not out) were the men at the crease when Leagues secured victory with 12 overs to spare.
“They didn’t have to score quick. They just stuck around, it was composed,” Izzard said.
“It was a hard wicket to bat on – it was slow and not bouncing much and they just stuck it out and played straight.
“They had the patience to just stay the course out there.”
Exies paceman Warren Bock was the pick of his side’s bowlers with 2-18 off six, while former Coro batsman Ben Leach made 15 in his debut for Leagues.
Izzard said he was surprised how quickly the Panthers’ fortunes have turned around after finishing winless in all forms last season, but warned his teammates not to get cocky.
“It’s business as usual,” he said. “We’ve gone through a pretty lean run and we’re still a pretty young side so the main thing is to not get too excited.”