In a packed weekend of cricket Souths, Easts and Ballina Bears firmed as probable finalists in both the one-day and two-day leagues, while Tintenbar/East Ballina and Casino seriously fell off the pace after suffering consecutive losses.
Perennial champions Souths were in cruise control in both of their games, routing Casino on Saturday in the Hooker League and then nailing The Bar in the one-day Private Life competition at Oakes Oval on Sunday. The return of speedster Craig Bateman and fellow paceman Scott Coster has given the two-day comp leaders a real aura of invincibility coming into the finals. Apart from Jerry Deals 4 for 13, the eight wicket win over Casino produced little of note. But in the match against The Bar, Lenny Blok bowled out of his shoes, producing the bouncer of the year to nut Brett Crawford. Crawford went on to make 64 before mis-timing a reverse sweep to give an easy catch to Michael Nind behind the stumps. The Bars total of 9 for 142 looked defendable, but when they dropped Richard Nind first ball, it sounded an off note for the seasiders. Richard went on to score 73 as Souths lost only one wicket on their way to an easy win on the flat hard pitch at Oakes.
Easts went into Fridays Private Life match without their captain, Bruce Jobson, and this gave Joel Parrey a chance to take up the mantle, which he did with tremendous resolve. Joel scored a match-winning 51 as Easts made 7 for 180. Marist could only manage 116 in reply, with Chris Matthews the only batsman to look at ease against a fired-up Mark Robb (3 for 11). Their Saturday game against The Bar was a wonderful match which both sides could have won. Despite a powerful last-ditch innings of 55 by Paul Simes, our player-of-the-match was Easts Martin Tucker, who broke the shackles of The Bar attack and took three vital wickets with the ball.
Ballina Bears knocked off Alstonville on Saturday mostly due to a powerful 58 from young Sam Adams as the Bears put on almost 100 off the last 20 overs to reach 9 for 159. Adams followed up his knock with an excellent slips catch and two late wickets as the red-soilers were tumbled out for 74. On Sunday the Bears ruined the Cavaliers weekend by bowling the Casino team out for 120, just two runs short of victory. Captain Andrew Gordon took 3 for 10 to lead his side to the win.
Notable events - Workers managed a win off the second last ball against Norths/Goonellabah RSL on Sunday after Paul Ianna turned the tide, smashing 22 off one over.
Alstonville produced a fielding effort of legendary status against Lennox Head on Sunday, throwing down the stumps three times to produce direct hit run-outs, and taking a brace of remarkable catches to seal a rare win.
Marist off-spinner Dean Collings produced a match winning spell against Workers on Saturday taking 5 for 13 with a mixture of leggies, toppies and offspinners.
After just failing to defend their Bradman Cup title, the North Coast Under 16 team have returned from Gosford with two of their number Ben Cooper and Jeremy Cowin selected in the NSW Country Coaching Camp. The two players both play for Workers Club in the local competition, so perhaps the future is bright for the cellar dwellers.
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