The pavilion in Lurgan Park, home to Victoria CC.
Victoria’s 1st XI made it three wins from three as they continued their great start to the season and qualified for the T20 Bowl Final in two weeks time.
On Wednesday, Larne visited Lurgan Park and were asked to field first, as Victoria won the toss and elected to bat.
Despite an early wicket Victoria got off to a fast start, as Garry McClune scored quickly off the Larne openers, supported by David Gilpin (11).
Two wickets in two balls looked to swing momentum back in Larne’s favour as Matthew Parks joined McClune at 42-3 in the 7th over.
When McClune (31) departed, wickets fell regularly at one end, as Parks looked to be proactive at the crease.
Victoria were eventually bowled out for 114, when Parks (24) was the last man dismissed, giving Larne hope when they should have been set an unchaseable target.
Tight bowling from the Victoria openers and change bowlers created chances, but some went down as others evaded the Victoria fielders. With both batsmen set and half way through their chase on 58-0, Bobi Babin produced the breakthrough which was needed courtesy of a Josh McClune catch.
With the match still in the balance David Gilpin removed the ther opener and trapped his replacement LBW in the space of two balls, and Victoria had wrestled back momentum.
Andrew Gray and Thomas Greenaway were tasked with seeing the game out for Victoria at the death, and both stepped up to the plate, rewarded with one wicket each as a result of the pressure they exerted with a tight line and length, to give Victoria a 14 run victory.
On Saturday, Victoria were on the road to Ards and again elected to bat first at the toss. Victoria got off to a great start, taking 10 off the first over before they were halted in the fourth over by a LBW decision as the ball appeared to get a thick inside edge of Darren Vennard’s (15) bat.
The batsmen who joined Gray afterwards looked to support him on a pitch where scoring was more difficult than expected, but all struggled to find the desired fluency. This didn’t stop Gray going through the gears as he reached 46 before being dismissed.
Bobi Babin (15) came to the crease and was joined by Josh McClune (8*) as the innings approached the close, with both men finding the boundary quickly to take Victoria to 109-6.
109 appeared to be below par, considering conditions and regular wickets would be key if Victoria were to defend the total. Thomas Greenaway strung together a series of dot balls which built the necessary pressure to get the breakthrough, courtesy of a juggling catch by Babin.
Despite this, Ards managed to progress at a healthy rate, bringing the score to 46-1 at the halfway point in the chase.
A breakthrough from Gilpin did little to slow the progress of the Ards innings, as they approached the last five overs with two batsmen set, needing 27 runs with eight wickets in hand.
However, in the next over Gray, fresh from his performance with the bat, found the crucial breakthrough, bowling Ingham for 43.
Darren Vennard was introduced for the death, removing the other set batsman courtesy of a flying catch from Gilpin at point, as the over went for a miserly one run.
Suddenly the complexion of the match had changed. Sixteen runs were needed to secure victory for Ards off the last over, but their fate was sealed with a further wicket as Vennard caught in the deep off Gray and Victoria sealed a seven-run win to progress to the T20 Bowl final.
Victoria 114 (G McClune 31, M Parks 24)
Larne 100-7 (D Gilpin 3-18)
Victoria beat Larne by 14 runs
Victoria 109-6 (A Gray 46)
Ards 102-5 (A Gray 2-22)
Victoria beat Ards by seven runs