IN the end, it was clear-cut.

Grange not only swept aside challenge of neighbours Heriot’s, they also claimed their mantle as champions.

And defeated skipper Keith Morton was at the head of the queue to pay tribute to the influence of player-coach John Blain to the burgeoning success of the “Stags.”

It was fitting that Blain - an ex-Heriot’s man - should play a major hands-on part in the victory.

Magnanimous Morton said: “The job Blainy has done at Grange is plain to see.

“He has developed a positive blend of youth and experience - and although he’s lost a yard or two of pace himself, he’s still a very canny operator and a fierce competitor.

“It wasn’t be for us after Grange got off to a strong start.

“However, it could have been very different as numerous opportunities didn’t fall our way.

“We felt we did well to restrict them to 225, but as a batting unit we simply didn’t turn up.”

The foundations at Goldenacre were built by Gordon Goudie and Ryan Flannigan, who put on 93 for the first wicket after Grange were asked by Morton to bat.

However, the most crucial partnership featured skipper Preston Mommsen and Tom Foulds.

They added 74 to make sure the target would be over the 200-mark.

Then Blain snatched the spotlight, demolishing the Heriot’s top order.

They couldn’t recover from his lethal burst, which yielded four wickets at a cost of 22.

Indeed, the first home player to even reach double figures was Elliot Ruthven at No10.

He hit a spirited 25 before being last out, stumped off Andrew Brock as Heriot’s capitulated to 87 all out.

Blain was given sterling support by Nick Farrar (two for 18) and young Charlie Peet (two for 14).

It was also one way traffic at Forthill, where Forfarshire hammered Carlton to make sure of a third-place finish in the league.

While Grange and Heriot’s fought out a two-horse race over most of the summer, there is no question that the Broughty Ferry boys have been the best of the rest.

And they would have jumped at the chance of a top-three grading had they been offered it back in May.

Skipper Umair Mohammed inflicted the initial damage by taking four cheap wickets, sending Carlton hurtling to 101 all out.

Chris Greaves (59 not out) and Rory Johnston (39 not out) then raced to the target without being parted by the visiting attack, which had an end-of-term air about it.

Mohammed declared: “Grange are very deserving of their success and congratulations to them.

“Finishing top three is also a great achievement for this very, very young team - let’s not forget the amount of home grown talent we have produced and the fact that they are delivering on a weekly basis.

“We were very clinical against Carlton and put in the complete performance.

“I am very proud to be captain of this team and there’s even a chance we could finish second.

“That be remarkable.”

Forfarshire may have conclusively replaced Arbroath as the prime power on Tayside, but the Lichties are not closing their account without fighting.

They made it two wins on the trot by outgunning RHC Lions at Barnton.

Captain Marc Petrie and Blair Carnegie were joint top scorers with 33 as Arbroath made 161.

Jack Waller then produced a career best four for nine to curb the Lions to 137.

There were also three wickets apiece for Bryce Allchin and Craig Ramsay.

Availability problems forced relegated Glenrothes to pull out of the trip to Aberdeenshire - who were awarded the points.