The Bar and Souths end up on top
The two big forces in Hooker League cricket, Southern Districts and Tintenbar East Ballina, ended up equal on points after 13 rounds, with The Bar capturing the top spot on averages. The two sides have been battling for domination of the league for many years and are now both in the box seat for another grand final appearance against the old enemy.
Souths all but pipped The Bar for the minor premiership on Saturday as they cruised past Cudgens 125 for an easy victory, while Tintenbars match against Ballina Bears was washed out. Meanwhile, Casino rallied to defeat Marist Brothers and capture third spot on the ladder.
Cudgens loss to Souths was their second loss in succession and meant that the only Tweed team to make the finals was relegated to fourth place. Cudgen will now have to travel to Ballina to take on The Bar this Saturday and Sunday. In the only other match between the teams back in round two, Tintenbar ran down Cudgens total of 168 with the loss of eight wickets. Seven of Cudgens batsmen got into double figures but no-one made a solid score in that game. In contrast, The Bars opener Phill Dalli scored 68 to guide his side to victory. Tintenbar will go in favourites but in truth neither side is in peak form. The Bar were very impressive just after Christmas but in an attempt to give their lower order some time in the middle, I fear their top order have gone off the boil.
In the other final Casino will play Souths in Lismore. Casino looked in trouble against Marist Brothers on Saturday, losing their first five wickets for 29. However, thanks to a great captains knock by Mal Hancock, and good support from Wade Sweeney and Sam Irvine, the Cavaliers passed the Brethrens 223 with only six wickets down.
Souths defeated Casino in their first round encounter thanks to a big partnership between Michael and Richard Nind as the pair chased down Casinos 200 at Queen Elizabeth Park. Although Casino have a number of veterans, and Souths have a few young guns, this is still a youth versus experience match up. Souths are perennial champions and the core of their batting is long in the tooth, while Casino will rely on their youthful stroke makers, Sam Irvine, Scott Sheppard and Sam Deitrich.