Saints snare historic Wimmera-Mallee hat-trick

ST MARY'S claimed a historic Wimmera-Mallee A Grade premiership hat-trick at Warracknabeal by defeating Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills by 134 runs.

Resuming at 3-80, the Eagles needed to tread a fine line between scoring quickly and protecting their wickets in order to surpass the Saints' first innings total of 263.

They entered the final day of play quietly confident of an upset but, not for the first time, Tim Bell was ready to provide grand final heroics for St Mary's.

Playing in his third straight grand final for the Saints, Bell produced another huge wicket haul in what is fast becoming a March tradition.

Bell finished with a haul of 8-41 from 22 overs, including nine maidens to back up his top score of 72 with the bat.

Five of Bell's wickets were unassisted.

In St Mary's past three grand finals Bell has amassed a total of 22 wickets for 125 runs from 55.4 overs, including a nine-wicket haul two years ago.

Brim-Kellalac-Sheep Hills' resolve was tested almost immediately when the team lost Leigh Dovaston in the first over of play on Saturday. Dovaston was trapped leg before wicket by Bell, sparking a run of wickets at regular intervals.

Bell's best ball of the day was an inswinging delivery that upended Matt Crisp's off stump.

He also picked up the coveted wicket of Mark McPherson.

But Bell said it was far from a virtuoso performance, paying credit to his team-mates.

"I think I was just the bloke on the lucky end of things on the day," he said.

"Justin Knorpp bowled unbelievable into the wind all day, I was just the bloke who had a bit of luck and ended up with the wickets. We bowled a really good line and length and put a lot of pressure on them and it was hard to score.

"They didn't play many silly shots or anything like that, but at the end of the day I think our bowling was just too good for them."

The win was punctuated by Kane Taylor's diving catch at second slip to remove Ash Herron off the bowling of Brenton Cheney, sparking another St Mary's celebration.

Bell said winning three consecutive premierships for the first time in St Mary's history meant a lot to the team.

Before breaking through in 2011-2012, the Saints had not tasted premiership success in more than 30 years.

Bell said everyone at the club was revelling in the team's current success.

"I think they played in 13 or 14 semi-finals in a row here and never made a grand final, and to come through to win three in a row is good for us and the club as well," he said.

"It's pretty special to see the old blokes enjoying it as much as we are."

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