PNG's side comprised of 10 senior and Under 19's Scholarship players based in Melbourne for a season of Sub-District cricket plus one of their top internationals back from the Australian Country Cricket Championships. Luckily, English wicket keeper Geraint Jones, who was born in and plays for PNG, was not available for the match. Also missing through injury was their fastest bowler from the scholarship group.
Hawthorn, currently siting on top of the ECA Dunstan Shield, Senior Turf ladder and travelling well in the ECA T20 competition, had bolstered their ranks with 3 very capable imports: Clive Rose from Casey-South Melbourne District 1st XI all-rounder and former Australian Under 19s squad member, Mark Simpson all rounder for Melbourne Uni. District 1st XI and Paul Summerskill, reputed to have played English County 2nd Xi cricket and currently playing in the VTCA with Bentleigh, was able to keep up to the stumps to Rob Tongue's bowling.
PNG won the toss and batted. As expected on the smallish ground there were plenty of aggression with fourteen fours and three sixes in PNG's total of 9/141. Strong contributions came from Jason Kila (30), Assad Vala (24), Charles Amini (21) and a surge in the run rate from No. 9 batsman John Boge-Reva (26). Clive Rose picked up a wicket in the opening over with his left arm spin but had no more luck in his 5 overs. The other 8 wickets were evenly shared around the 5 Hawthorn bowlers.
Hawthorn batted more conservatively, aiming to keep wickets in hand while matching the PNG run rate closely and after 15 overs both teams had 74 runs on the board. The run home was very tight but on track after solid scores from opener Mark Simpson (31), Jeff Baker (23), Rob Tongue (22).
Down to the last over, Hawthorn were five wickets down needing 10 to win. John Boge-Riva picked up the vital wicket of Summerskill (21) with his 2nd ball, knocking the off stump out of the ground and Summerskill collapsed to the pitch after the shot. Needing 9 to win off 4 balls, new batsman Clive Rose pushes a single leaving the heroics to captain Will Lawton. Next ball is full pitched outside off and "Lawts" gets under it, slicing a lofted square drive that is caught one handed but carried over the boundary line at deep point for a remarkable six! Just two from two required and Boge-Riva beats the bat with a yorker outside off. Last ball of the match and Lawton plays and knicks it to be caught behind, resulting in a thrilling victory to PNG.
Captain and wicket keeper Jack Vare acknowledged the all round team effort of his players and emphasised the value of all their hard work and sacrifices paying off under pressure. He thanked the Hawthorn Cricket Club for promoting the event and putting so much work into the day including the donations of cricket gear collected for the 116,000 kids in Cricket PNG development programs. Vare mentioned that PNG has been voted the Best Cricket Developing nation in the world by the ICC and that tight matches like this would help PNG continue to improve and hopefully quality for the T20 World Cup later this year in Sri Lanka.
Man of the Match was awarded to Charles Amini, one of several candidates who made significant all round contributions to the win by PNG.