Opener Johnstone red hot
GRACEMERE'S Luke Johnstone had Brothers Southside feeling the heat during the semi-final clash for the PFD Cup at the weekend.
Johnstone scored a triumphant 87 runs to lead Gracemere to an imposing 368 on day one of the match against Brothers at Kalka Shades on Saturday.
Brothers beat Gracemere n the final round of the regular season last weekend but both teams were expecting the rematch to be a lot tighter.
Brothers captain Murray Harch said he had decided upon winning the toss to send Gracemere in to bat.
"The pitch looked like it was going to do a few tricks early," he said.
"It ended up working in favour of our opposition, turning out to be a good batting pitch."
Harch said by 2pm he had begun to doubt his decision with the Gracemere top order showing no signs of slowing down.
"We thought at the time it was a good decision," he said.
"Their top order was doing their job with about two for 200."
Adding to Johnstone's strong lperformance for Gracemere was middle-order batsman Aaron Harmsworth who smashed nine fours in his 84-run knock.
Harch said that with five wickets still in hand in the last 20 odd overs, Gracemere began to step up their assault.
Ben Milne had a bit of fun towards the end of the Gracemere innings, smashing 43 runs off just 33 balls.
But despite Gracemere putting up a big total, Harch was happy with Brothers' bowling attack.
"The wickets were shared around," he said. "I got two."
Harch said the likes of Tim Reid, Ken Litschner and Jason Batchelor also performed well on the day.
"They all got a couple of wickets which certainly helped break down the Gracemere attack," he said.
Litschner turned out to be "the man" for Brothers in the field, not only taking two wickets but snatching a further two catches in the field.
Despite Gracemere's strong start, a heavy downpour of rain washed away any chance they had of coming up against the Frenchville Falcons in the PFD Cup final this weekend.
The rain washed out the second day of play yesterday with Brothers' second-place finish on the ladder allowing them progress through to the final.
With Brothers batsman Scott Smithwick set to return to the side for next weekend's final, Harch said he was confident Brothers were in with a chance.
"He was away this past weekend due to AFL commitments. However, he has been batting solidly which should help us in the grand final," he said.
Brothers will take on Frenchville Falcons this weekend in the PFD Cup grand final at Kalka Shades, with the action beginning at 10am on Saturday.