TORONTO’S hopes of premiership success rest solely with its second grade team, after the first and fourth grades’ hopes were washed away in the rain that prevented any play in the Newcastle district cricket semi-finals at the weekend.
Paul Toole’s first grade team had been scheduled to play Hamilton-Wickham in last weekend’s semi-final.
But the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Hamilton-Wickham, who finished the regular season in second place on the ladder, progressed to this weekend’s grand final while Toronto, who finished third, were eliminated.
Hamilton-Wickham will take on minor premiers Belmont in the decider this Saturday and Sunday at No 1 Sportsground.
In fourth grade, Toronto suffered a similar fate in its semi-final against Charlestown.
It means second grade is Toronto’s last team standing in the quest for a premiership title. The team, captained by Aaron Gray, will take on Merewether at Ron Hill Oval.
“A second grade premiership is certainly overdue for us,” Gray said.
“But I think we’re in a good position to bring some silverware into the club to add to our club championship which, for us, is the pinnacle.”
Toronto last won the second grade premiership in 2008-2009.
Gray has captained second grade in five of the last seven seasons, and has won the minor premiership four times.
“I suppose we’ve got to get the monkey off our back and convert a minor premiership into a premiership,” he said.
Merewether boasts a wealth of top grade experience in its second grade line-up.
“We know they’re an exceptional team, and they have a good smattering of first grade experience throughout their group,” Gray said.
“We need to turn up and play beyond our best cricket to beat them.”
Gray said one of Toronto’s strengths was that it had not relied on outstanding performances from the same one or two players to win through to the decider.
First Grade: Belmont v Hamilton-Wickham at No.1 Sportsground;
Second Grade: Toronto v Merewether at Ron Hill Oval;
Third Grade: University v Merewether at University Oval;
Fourth Grade: Hamilton-Wickham v Charlestown at Passmore Oval.