In an ominous warning to his Maitland first grade cricket rivals, Raymond Terrace all-rounder Nick Savage believes his undefeated team's best is yet to come.
Terrace maintained their unbeaten start to the 2017-18 season with a thrilling one-wicket victory against Western Suburbs, chasing down the Plovers’ first day total of 224 at Jack Collins Oval on Saturday.
The Lions share top spot on the table with Northern Suburbs, who were five-wicket winners against City United, going into the Christmas break.
Thornton collected their first win of the first grade season with a 93-run victory against Eastern Suburbs bowling the visitors out for 147.
Norths and Terrace share top with 32 points, a two-game break on their rivals led by Wests on 18 and Easts on 16.
Savage said despite still needing six runs to win with the last pair at the crease he never doubted the Lions would win.
“Normally there's all sorts of pacing, hiding heads in your hands and nervousness in a situation like that, but strangely I was just confident we’d get up,” he said.
“To go into the break unbeaten is fantastic and I really do think we haven’t produced anything like our best yet.
“I really think our best is to come. We’ve been able to get wins even when we weren’t at our best which is the hallmark of a good side.
“Norths have been doing it for years. Someone stands up when needed to get you the win.”
On Saturday it was teenagers Jacob Page (53), Mitchell Pinch (27 not out) and captain Steve Smith (45) who provided the impetus for victory. But it could easily have been Wests co-captain Mitchell Fisher who could have taken the honours taking three wickets in an excellent display of bowling in sapping conditions.
“Mitch bowled excellently. It wasn’t easy for the bowlers it was tough,” Savage said.
“For Pagey and Pinchy to get the runs against a bowler of Mitch’s quality bowling very well was a real testament to their ability and maturity to stand up in that situation.”
Savage said the team was looking forward to the Christmas break and taking their game to the next level when they return.
“We haven’t played at our best yet. Realistically we have to step up as Norths always finish strongly and play their best in finals,” he said.
“Wests as I thought were a great challenge as well and they are the type of team that thrives on a challenge and making you work hard.
‘However, I think if we can play at our best we can beat any team in the competition.
“We have a lot of upside. I’m just really looking forward to when Aaron Bills turns it on with the bat – there will be fireworks and plenty of quick runs.”
Norths skipper Michael Wilson said to go into the break with a win was important, particularly a win against City United who have had the upper hand over Norths in recent outings.
“I’d think they had got us in probably the last six or seven games. It was nice to end that run,” Wilson said.
“Hopefully that loss will make it too difficult for them to make the finals now.
“We get along really well with the City boys but facing them in the finals is a headache I’d rather avoid.
“It was an important win for us as it gives us a needed buffer as we have two byes in the new year.”
An outstanding knock of 70 not out by 16-year-old Logan Smith saw Norths home by five wickets chasing City’s first inning total of 193.
Smith’s innings included seven fours and four sixes.
“Lincoln Mills got another 50 and young Logan was terrific. It was a really fine innings,” Wilson said.
“He took on their spinners and knocked them out of the attack with some really good shots and the right mix of aggression and control.
“Jordan Callinan (17 not out) was really good support at the end for Logan.”
Tim Baker was the best of City’s bowlers taking 3-49 off 18 overs.
Thornton claimed their first win of the season with a comfortable 93-run victory against Eastern Suburbs.
Thornton had set the Griffins a target of 241 after Peter Gabriel (67) and Jason Grob (100) led a recovery from a perilous 4-12 on day one.
As they did last year, Thornton has found form after success in the Hunter Valley Cup T20 series and although bottom of the table are just five points outside the top four.
Easts skipper Andrew Vickery who top scored with 46 of his side’s 147 said Easts had contributed to their own demise with some poor shots to get out. Matt Gabriel took four wickets and Dan Willis three to lead Thornton’s attack.
Cricket resumes on January 6.