It may not be the prize they ultimately crave, but Wests added another piece of silverware to their collection on Saturday in what has proved a drought-breaking season for the club.
The Rosellas clinched the Newcastle District Cricket Association first-grade minor premiership following an emphatic 118-run, last-round victory against semi-final contenders University at Harker Oval.
Wests, who finished on 81 points and six clear of nearest rivals Merewether (75), last won that same title 52 summers ago. In 1965-1966 the Lambton-New Lambton team went on to make it a double by winning the grand final.
Earlier this campaign the Rosellas claimed their maiden Tom Locker Cup crown after defeating Merewether in the one-day decider.
“It’s great for the club, they’ve waited a long time for success on the field,” Wests skipper James King said.
“It’s good to start and turn that around from the previous years. It wasn’t that long ago people we’re saying we shouldn’t be in the comp.”
This weekend’s two-day semi-final has Wests hosting defending champions Hamilton-Wickham, who secured fourth spot on the ladder with an outright result by seven wickets away against back-to-back wooden spooners Cardiff-Boolaroo.
Second-placed Merewether meet third-placed Charlestown in the other semi at No.1 Sportsground.
The winners advance to the 2017-2018 decider at the central-Newcastle venue on March 24 and 25.
“It’s good to get it [the minor premiership],” King said.
“But I think [Merewether captain] Moorey said it earlier in the year, no one really remembers who the minor premiers were.
“We’re still pretty switched on about the next two weeks.”
King was impressed with the return of former NSW Country representative Tom Allen from an ankle injury, picking up 3-43 in his first full game back since Christmas.
University were dismissed for 151 after losing 8-93 in 24.1 overs on day two.
Elsewhere in round 14 encounters and Merewether finished 9-194 in their second innings at Ron Hill Oval after going down last weekend by 36 to Toronto, who clocked up a seventh straight win. Charlestown beat Stockton by 293 runs at Lynn Oval, Nathan Price made 137 at home but Wallsend fell 64 short after Dan Bailey took six wickets for Belmont while City suffered a fifth consecutive loss finishing 152 arrears of visiting Waratah.
LADDER: Wests 81, Merewether 75, Charlestown 66, Hamwicks 65, University 55, Belmont 52, City 52, Toronto 51, Wallsend 51, Waratah 29, Stockton 29, Cardiff 22.