Hamilton-Wickham will get a shot at redemption while Belmont will look to seal a minor-major premiership double after the top two sides automatically progressed to this weekend’s first grade grand final.
Newcastle District Cricket Association semi-finals in all four grades were called off Saturday and Sunday with not a single ball bowled following constant rainfall during the week.
The blanket wash out means first-placed Belmont and second-placed Hamwicks, who were due to play at No.1 Sportsground and Passmore Oval respectively, move through to the main decider ahead of third-placed Toronto and fourth-placed University.
The Pumas, who lost the title to Merewether 12 months ago, are chasing the club’s first two-day crown since 2003-2004 despite appearing in four grand finals since.
“It’s a funny way to get there, and we would have rather get the win [in the semi-final], but we’re there,” Hamwicks captain Josh Trappel said.
“We’ve only lost one game this year and there’s not many competitions where you do that and only finish second. But I suppose that [grand final spot] is the reward for finishing higher.”
It will be Belmont’s first grand final appearance since they last won it in 2008-2009, which broke a 15-year premiership drought, and follows losses in Tom Locker Cup and Twenty20 deciders earlier this season.
“It’s not ideal to have a semi decided by the weather, but that’s just sport and it shows how difficult it can be to win one,” Belmont skipper Mark Littlewood said.
“It [going through] is a reward for our hard work during the year.”
Belmont and Hamwicks haven’t met during the two-day play-offs in at least 12 seasons, but crossed paths last Sunday in the T20 final and the Pumas secured a second straight trophy. A last round encounter between them was washed out while Belmont beat the visitors in a virtual one-day semi-final at Cahill Oval in November.
However, the wash out means the dream is over for both Toronto and University.
“It was a good year for us, but it was a frustrating way to end it,” Toronto captain Paul Toole said. “It’s just one of those things and cricket is funny like that – you play all season and finish with a wash out.”
University skipper Matt Gawthrop said he was pleased with his team’s performance in 2016-2017, which included a maiden Tom Locker Cup.
“I’m really proud of the boys for their efforts this season,” Gawthrop said.
“We achieved some pretty special things which will give us a lot of confidence going into next season.”
In the lower grade deciders Merewether will feature in both seconds and thirds against Toronto and University respectively while Hamwicks and Charlestown meet in fourths. Venues have yet to be determined.
First Grade: Belmont v Hamilton-Wickham at No.1 Sportsground
Second Grade: Toronto v Merewether
Third Grade: University v Merewether
Fourth Grade: Hamilton-Wickham v Charlestown