CLASSY INNINGS: Gracemere opener Mark O'Keeffe scored an unbeaten 73 in his team's win over Frenchville in the first game of the finals series.
CLASSY INNINGS: Gracemere opener Mark O'Keeffe scored an unbeaten 73 in his team's win over Frenchville in the first game of the finals series. Chris Ison ROK071017ccricket3

Gracemere on the board first in race for Rocky A-grade title

CRICKET: Gracemere has gone one up in the Frenchville Sports Club A-grade premiership grand final series, scoring a six-wicket win over Frenchville in the opener on Saturday.

The Bulls' four-pronged pace attack helped restrict their rivals to just 167, while half centuries from Mark O'Keeffe and Todd Harmsworth saw them reel in the total in the 46th over.

Opener O'Keeffe, who carried his bat through the innings to finish with 73, said it was an unbelievable victory.

"We're stoked. We had a few guys out for the weekend but the guys who came in are quality cricketers in their own right and really helped us get across the line,” he said.

Gracemere's Luke Johnstone took two wickets.
Gracemere's Luke Johnstone took two wickets. Allan Reinikka ROK170318acricket

"I think the key was our bowling attack. We wanted to be really disciplined and restrict their scoring and we did that.

"We had four quality quicks and we managed to keep them to 167 which, on that pitch, was probably a little under par.

"Bryce Heal finished with four wickets but you really couldn't split the bowlers; they all performed really well.”

Frenchville captain Joe McGahan top-scored with 59, and Brent Hartley chipped in with 25.

In the run chase, openers O'Keeffe and Luke Johnstone got Gracemere off to a solid start, putting on 64 before Johnstone fell for 18 in the 20th over.

Frenchville's Joe Burke chipped in with 18 runs and took three quick wickets on Saturday.
Frenchville's Joe Burke chipped in with 18 runs and took three quick wickets on Saturday. Allan Reinikka ROK170318acricket

Frenchville's Joe Burke snared three quick wickets to have his side back in the hunt but that brought Harmsworth and O'Keeffe together and they proved unstoppable, steering the Bulls to a comfortable victory.

O'Keeffe said the team was feeling good about having one win under its belt with the two remaining games to be played this weekend.

"There's a number of variables that come into play so it's nice to have the first won on the board as a bit of a safety net.

"We haven't settled on the team for this weekend but I'd expect that Aaron Harmsworth and Tom Shackleton will come back in.

"We don't want it to go to a decider. We'd love to wrap it up on Saturday so we're definitely going to be up for it.

"If we bowl like we did on the weekend then I think we'll go a long way to doing that.”



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