A battered and bruised Jason Morris and Nick Bower rescued City United from a disastrous 5/27 to post 193 against Northern Suburbs at Robins Oval on Saturday.
Norths’ arsenal of quicks tested Morris and Bower with a barrage of well-aimed short deliveries but the pair were able to resist to scored 57 and 54 not out respectively.
Michael Heinrich showed the most resistance in the top six making 23 before being judged lbw. The other five batsman contributed just 14 runs between them as Lincoln Mills (3-37), Rex Greaves (2-13) and Callum Gabriel (2-28) tormented the City United batsman with pace and intimidation.
Spinner Jordan Callinan provided the ideal foil to the paceman taking 3-43 off 22 economical overs to keep the pressure on the City batsmen.
City skipper Matt Trappel said it was a good batting strip and that Norths just bowled very well to leave his side reeling at 5/27.
“They bowled a very good line and really put pressure on our top order to score,” Trappel said.
“Thankfully Chris Morris and Nick stepped up with really gutsy innings to get us back in the match.
“I think 193 is a very good total considering how we started and it gives us enough runs to bowl them out.
“Chris in particular took a battering from the Norths bowlers but didn’t flinch.
“His last 15 runs were all singles, but in the context they were just such important runs.
“Nick batted very well too. The pitch was good to bat on, it’s just that Norths made you earn every run.
“Jordan Callinan played a big role as he managed to tie one end down and get wickets. He bowls spin come slow medium-pacers but he keeps it tight and makes scoring difficult.”
Norths will resumed at 0-39 with Lincoln Mills on 28 and Luke Stewart on eight.
Mills by his own admission has been having a feast or famine season with the bat, but looms large at the top of the batting order with his 68 off 32 balls setting up Norths’ last round outright win against Eastern Suburbs.
“Millsy is very dangerous with the bat and we need to get him out early and Luke Stewart as well so that we can get into the middle order as early as possible,” Trappel said looking ahead to day two of the match.
“Heiney (Michael Heinrich) and Nick (Bower) will be very important for us. They are probably the best spin combination in the competition and can keep the runs down and get wickets at the same time.
“I think we can defend 193 but we are going to have to be at our best. The win is really important for us going into the break.”
Exciting finishes set up across first grade
Maitland first grade cricket's incredibly tight season has delivered another cracking round of evenly poised matches.
All three games mirrored each other with bowlers getting early wickets and batsman staging recoveries to get encounters back on even terms.
There were some fine individual performances led by a six-wicket haul to Raymond Terrace paceman Cameron Bates, an even century to Thornton all-rounder Jason Grob and a determined 90 to Western Suburbs No.3 Aaron Mahony.
City United recovered from 5/27 to post 193 against Northern Suburbs thanks in no small part to a gutsy 57 from Jason Morris and 54 not out from Nick Bower.
Thornton were in all sorts of trouble at 4/12, until Peter Gabriel and Jason Grob combined for a 155 run partnership with Gabriel scoring 67 before becoming the first of four wickets to Jack Bennett.
Chris Archer scored an important 41 to take the score with Grob to 228 before Thornton retired on 9/240.
Wests managed to hold out another fine spell of bowling by leg-spinner Aiden Bills, however pacemen Bates and Jacob Page got the job done taking 10 wickets between them. Page finished with 4-20 off 13 overs and Bates’ 6-50 came off 16 overs.
Spinners Bills (0-69 off 19) and Mitchell Pinch (0-67 of 27) bowled a combined 46 overs.
Wests skipper said Bills, fresh from taking 9-19 against Kurri Weston, showed he was a class above with his variety and control.
“It was just really tremendous batting by Aaron (Mahony) and Slim (Andrew Trappel) that kept him out,” he said.
“Aaron’s 90 was another great innings. It was very different to his usual free-flowing scoring. He grafted his way facing probably 250 balls scoring singles and hitting the bad balls when they were presented.
“It was just the innings we needed and got us right back in the match. It was another quality knock to confirm in my opinion that he is the premier batsman in this competition.
“It’s set up what should be a great finish. If we can get the win it will really cement us in the top four which is what we want.”
Easts skipper Andrew Vickery said he was confident of chasing down Thornton’s 240.
Vickery said Gabriel produced a fine innings as he had so often done for Thornton when required.
“You can’t back on anything while ‘Pommy’ is still at the crease. Jason Grob batted very well for his ton as well with great support at the end from Chris Archer,” he said.
“To have them at 4/12 and then for them to score 240 is not ideal, but I’ll take it. At 1-10 we are very much in the game as we have Trent Park, Lucas Sargent and Lachlan Ballard to come back into the team next week.
“Our form has really dropped off over the past two matches and we need to turn it around.
“If we are going to play any sort of meaningful part in the finals we have to win games like this. It’s a pretty decent target but I think if we can start solidly we can make it.”
Jack Bennett continued to show plenty for his new side claiming 4-75 off 16 overs and Lachlan Whishart made the early breakthroughs finishing with 3-13 from his nine overs. Brendan Allen took 1-19 and Josh Hicks bowled without luck.