CRICKET: Six of the Lockyer Valley's best up-and-coming cricketers were stoked to begin 2018 with a trophy after helping bring the Darling Downs South West Queensland team to victory in last month's Bulls Masters Youth Cup.
It's their second Cup win, meaning the Darling Downs team remains the undefeated champion since the carnival's inception.
Player Ezekiel Kugel said the team suffered a loss to the South East Queensland team on the first day, but its games picked up after that.
"Yeah, it was good to get on a roll after that because we went on to win all our other games,” he said.
Their 'roll' kept going through the final, where they faced their South East rivals again.
The Darling Downs boys took to the field first and soon had their opponents all out for 87.
Reece Willmett, who took two wickets over four overs that day, said the pitch had favoured the bowlers.
"There was a lot in it for the bowlers but it was a bit difficult for the batters,” he said.
Opening batsman Rylan Martin agreed, but said he welcomed the opportunity to play higher level cricket and hone his skills.
"Just being patient and backing your ability... having that confidence and having something to go back home with and work harder on is always good,” he said.
Ezekiel's elder brother Elijah Kugel travelled with the team, and said the boys played some "exceptional” cricket to defeat the South East team.
"It was a really good opportunity to play against some of the best players in the state,” he said.
"A lot of them had played together before, but there were a few new faces in the team, including my brother, and it was good to see they gelled really well.
"I thought, especially for these boys, taking their cricket to the next level and challenging themselves to see how good they are is a really great experience.
"Plus, half the side were Lockyer boys, which is a pretty big achievement for the area in itself.”
Players from the Lockyer Valley said through their win, they were pleased to showcase the region's talent and believe with opportun- ities like this, their country clubs will keep improving.
"It's definitely showing, isn't it?” Ezekiel said.
"It was my first time (at the Cup), so that was an experience in itself but knowing that good-quality players were there made you work harder and perform better.”
"It's one of the best feelings ever in my cricket- ing career,” Rylan added.
"I thought some of the newer fellas who hadn't played that level of cricket stood up and played really well.”
The final result had South East Queensland 10/87 against the Darling Downs' 1/88. Harry Engel took 4/7 off five overs, Rylan Martin 2/14 off four overs and Reece Willmett 2/10 off four overs. Ezekiel Kugel scored 23*.
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