WA into third straight Shield final, Vics shattered

Oliver Caffrey |

WA bowler Liam Haskett has taken his best first-class figures in the Shield clash against Victoria.
WA bowler Liam Haskett has taken his best first-class figures in the Shield clash against Victoria.

Western Australia have booked a third straight home Sheffield Shield final after defeating a wounded Victoria and leapfrogging Tasmania to top spot on the ladder.

The dual defending champions needed everything to go right in their last regular-season game to keep alive their hopes of a Shield three-peat.

WA rose to the challenge, defeating the Vics by 138 runs in a virtual elimination final at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.

Set 269 to win, the Vics were skittled for 130 late on a rain-affected day three of the match.

WA finished the campaign on 47.93 points, pipping Tasmania (47.36) in a nail-biting final round.

Victoria never looked like pulling off the unlikely run chase on a difficult pitch, stumbling to 3-31 with their three most experienced batters – Nic Maddinson, Marcus Harris and Peter Handscomb – already dismissed.

Campbell Kellaway
Victoria’s Campbell Kellaway plays a shot on his way to top-scoring against Western Australia. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Young left-hander Campbell Kellaway showed why he has a bright future, hitting 53 from 136 balls for his fifth first-class half-century.

After coming in at No.3, Kellaway survived the carnage around him as WA’s bowlers worked in tandem to complete the match on Wednesday.

Spinner Corey Rocchiccioli (2-26) tore through the lower order to be on a hat-trick after dismissing Fergus O’Neill and Todd Murphy in consecutive balls.

Liam Haskett (3-12) finished with the best figures of his first-class career and ended the match after Kellaway was caught going for a slog pull shot.

Liam Haskett (centre)
WA teammates rush to congratulate Liam Haskett (centre) after the wicket of Campbell Kellaway. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Victoria captain Will Sutherland almost broke down when describing the pain of the defeat.

“Our batting let us down … the boys ran out of steam a little bit with the ball,” he said.

“We’re still a young group, but I think this one does hurt quite a bit … almost hurts more than making the final and losing, I don’t know why.”

Sutherland (back), Test quick Scott Boland (knee) and O’Neill (illness) all struggled through the match.

WA will host the five-day final against Tasmania at the WACA Ground, starting on March 21, after the Tigers blew a golden opportunity to ensure the decider was played in Hobart.

Tasmania started the round in the box seat to secure a home final, only needing to defeat South Australia at Blundstone Arena to lock it in.

But the Tigers suffered a shock 134-run loss – just their second defeat of the season – against the Redbacks to consign them to a trip to Perth.

WA are aiming to become just the third team this century, after Queensland (2000-02) and Victoria (2015-17), to win three straight Shield titles.

“The pleasing thing about this group is there’s no real talk about three in a row,” WA captain Sam Whiteman said.

“It’s just about winning this year, and we’ve found this year that Shields are so hard to win, a lot of things need to go your way.”