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Bulls make it back-to-back titles

The trophy cabinet at Gunton Oval continues to fill at a rapid rate after Cardinia (7/161) made it back-to-back Kookaburra Cup wins in the Casey Cardinia Cricket Association T20 finals at Pakenham on Sunday.

The Bulls have now claimed three of the last four pieces of silverware on offer after a clinical display with both bat and ball against Kooweerup (7/124).

The Bulls won the 2020/21 Premier Division title, and have now backed up that victory with dual Kookaburra Cup crowns.

The only title to elude the Bulls over the last two years was the 2021/22 Premier Division - a title they defended bravely in the grand final before going down to Tooradin.

Sunday’s victory was set up in the early stages of the contest, with Alex Nooy (72) and Morteza Ali (26) putting on 76 for the first wicket.

Nooy began the carnage in the second over, with the classy left-hander pouncing on a short ball from Adam McMaster and pulling it for six.

The bright start continued in the fourth over, with Nooy cutting and pulling nicely to take 17 off McMaster’s second over.

The Bulls were 0/46 off four…momentum had been gained.

Nooy added eight fours to his brilliant six off McMaster in just his second half century for the season.

The busy opener has been down in form, but Sunday’s 72, backing up a 51 not out in the semi-final against Clyde, should build some confidence as the Bulls fight for a place in the regular-season top-four.

Kooweerup refused to take pace off the ball early, and suffered, and it wasn’t until off-spinner Steven Dillon (2/18 off 4) was introduced that they began to fight their way back into the contest.

Kooweerup fought back hard, with the Bulls taking only a slight edge into the second innings of the match.

The Bulls struck a key blow early however, with Chris Bright (0) being bowled by Travis Campbell (2/18 off 4) for a second-ball globe in the first over of the Demons’ run-chase.

Luke McMaster (49) threatened, as did Mitch Davey (20) and Gamini Kumara (15) but the Demons were always behind the eight-ball.

Off-spinner Travis Wheller (2/13 off 4) had the ball on a string, as did veteran opener Dean Henwood (2/24 off 4) as the Bulls cruised their way to a well-deserved 37-run victory.

Stand-in skipper Nathan Volpe thoroughly enjoyed the victory, but quickly turned his attention to the regular season.

“We pride ourselves on our twenty twenties, it’s a game we really adapt well to, and we got an excellent start, we just need to transition this into our Saturday cricket now,” Volpe said after the match.

“It’s great to go back-to-back in this format, but the focus now turns to Saturday.”

Volpe was effusive in his praise of Nooy, who claimed grand final man-of-the-match honours for the second consecutive season.

He made 57 not out in a successful run-chase against Tooradin last year.

“He’s a dead-set star, he works his butt off, he’s the heart and soul of the club, and you can always rely on him,” Volpe said.

“He’s had a pretty average season by his standards, but we always back him in to deliver on the big stage.

“We pride ourselves on getting off to a good start with the bat, making the most of those overs with the field in, and he and Morteza maximised those overs and that set us up.”

With 161 on the board, Volpe was confident the Bulls could defend.

“With the ball, we do it week in week out, we work really, really hard on that at training and that’s the thing we hang our hats on,” he said.

“It’s all about executing with the ball.

“We’ve got a bloke like Dean Henwood, who likes to let us all know he’s getting old and wily; this format is a young man’s game and for him to come out and bowl the way he does has been outstanding…he’s led from the front this season.

“The spinners bowled beautifully as well, it’s all about building dot balls and pressure and the rest takes care of itself.”

In the 11am District Division final, a sparkling 76 off just 36 balls from Satnam Singh guided Cranbourne Meadows (1/108) to a nine-wicket victory over Lang Lang (6/105).

Singh crunched five fours and seven incredible sixes – with 62 of his runs coming in boundaries – to earn man-of-the-match honours.

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Casey-Cardinia Cricket Association

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