Heriot’s last night completed a remarkable Eastern Premier title triumph with victory over Aberdeenshire as long-time leaders Arbroath suffered last-day heartache at Carlton.
The Goldenacre side had lurked on the fringes of the title race for much of the season without announcing themselves as genuine contenders.
However, they put together a perfectly timed challenge, winning six of their last seven matches to deny Arbroath a second title in four years.
Delayed starts and reduced overs contests merely heightened the tension as the final day of the season went down to the wire.
Heriot’s won the toss and elected to bat in a match reduced to 45 overs. It was a positive statement of intent from skipper Keith Morton and, despite the early loss of Kevin McLaren, his men responded in style to rattle-up the runs.
Hayes van der Berg led the way with a superb century and his second-wicket stand of 151 with Mark Watt (65) appeared to have put the capital troops on course for a total in excess of 250.
However, the Shire bowlers stuck to their task and were rewarded with late wickets to restrict the hosts to 218-6.
It proved more than enough as only skipper Chris Venske’s half-century delayed the celebrations before Heriot’s completed a 46-run win to claim a first Eastern Premier title.
Across the capital at Grange Loan, the match was reduced to 35 overs and Arbroath were soon in trouble following the early loss of Brendon Ford. His departure set the tone for an innings in which partnerships proved elusive and it was only an unbroken one for the final wicket which allowed the Lochlands men to hoist their tally to a modest 120-9 thanks largely to Euan Small’s 29no.
Carlton, still on a high following last Sunday’s Scottish Cup triumph, had little trouble in knocking off the runs especially when Rory McCann clicked into gear to stroke 60no in an eight-wicket win.
Elsewhere Callum Garden hit a maiden top-flight century in Forfarshire’s 180-run win over SMRH while Watsonians beat relegated Falkland by eight wickets but the match between Glenrothes and Grange was abandoned.
Meanwhile, it was a familiarly soggy story in the west where the final day of the Western Union was wrecked by rain though there were few complaints from Prestwick who were crowned champions for the first time.
The Ayrshire side, who topped the table throughout the second half of the campaign, clinched the title when their Torrance House clash with East Kilbride was abandoned – a result which also relegated the home side.
The cancellation meant second placed Ferguslie could not catch Prestwick – regardless of the outcome of their match against Uddingston. That game, too, was ultimately abandoned.
Prestwick skipper Shahzad Rafiq said: “We’d much rather have played and won it in style but we still have lots to celebrate. We have played the best cricket of any team in the league this season.”
Prestwick now progress to next week’s CS Grand Final to face Heriot’s.
In the only match to survive Dumfries ended the season on a high with victory over Poloc at Nunholm.