Narrabri RSL Cricket Club’s first grade side secured a fourth straight minor premiership on Saturday when they beat Tourist Hotel by 31 runs at Leitch Oval to move three wins clear at the top of the Narrabri District Cricket Association first grade competition ladder with two rounds remaining.
The Jarrett Tough-captained team entered the 2023/24 season having won the minor/major premiership double in all of the past three years, and they are one game away from achieving that impressive feat for a fourth straight time after securing their spot in this year’s decider.
RSL batted first in the top-of-the-table round 10 clash against Tourist Hotel after Tough won the toss and they overcame yet another collapse to make 134 runs in 36.3 overs before knocking over the chasing outfit for 103 runs in 38.3 overs.
The victory saw them climb to 61 points following eight wins, a washed-out draw and just one loss so far this season. They are now 18 points clear of both Tatts and Tourist Hotel, who are on 43 points following five wins, a washed-out draw and four losses each this season.
Tatts scored their fifth win of the campaign in round 10 on Saturday as they defeated Western Razorbacks by 49 runs at Collins Park, and that loss saw the Razorbacks finish the weekend on 11 points following nine losses and a washed-out draw this season as they continue to search for their first win of the campaign.
RSL got off to a positive start at Leitch Oval on Saturday in their round 10 contest as a 47-run first-wicket partnership laid the platform for a successful innings. More than a third of those runs were donated by Tourist Hotel as their bowlers struggled through the windy conditions and conceded plenty of wides.
Tourist finally made the breakthrough in the 12th over when Danny Laws took the first wicket of the game with the assistance of a Jye Manton catch to dismiss the competition’s leading run-scorer Will Ford (14). It was a double blow for RSL as Laws struck again later that over when he bowled Tough for a duck.
Ford’s opening batting partner Jake Brayshaw (15) was caught behind by stand-in gloveman Aaronn Baker in the Dylan Segundo-bowled 14th over, and RSL then limped into the first drinks break at 4-55 after Segundo bowled Zaac Brayshaw for a duck in the 15th.
RSL’s collapse continued after play restarted when Cody Kember became the third batsman to depart for a duck after being caught by Segundo during a Hamish Duncan wicket-maiden in the 19th over.
Duncan struck again during the 25th over when he caught and bowled Jake Thurston (2) during his second wicket-maiden of the match to make the score 6-68 in the 25th as the collapse stretched to 6-19.
Alistair Wheeler then joined Cooper Brayshaw at the crease and they put 19 runs together before Wheeler (3) and Rowan Keeler (0) were dismissed by Luke Meppem in the 29th over as the Tourist Hotel skipper struck twice during his first over of the match.
Nathan Trindall became Brayshaw’s sixth partner of the innings and they combined for an 18-run partnership to take RSL into triple figures before Brayshaw (26) was dismissed when he was bowled by Meppem in the 33rd over as the score became 9-105.
That wicket left Nathan and Jason Trindall together at the crease for the final partnership and Jason proudly watched on at the non-strikers’ end as his son did all the damage in a 29-run partnership to help their side reach a defendable total. Nathan eventually departed for a game-high score of 42 runs and his dad finished unbeaten on zero as RSL ended up on 134 runs.
It was Meppem who took that last wicket in the 37th over to claim a match-best 4-15 from 5.3 overs. His teammates Duncan (2-7 from six overs), Segundo (2-23 from eight overs) and Laws (2-24 from nine overs) all took two scalps each as they combined for the other six.
Duncan’s spell was particularly impressive as he produced two wicket-maidens and three maidens in total as he produced the tight bowling his side needed on a day they coughed up 30 wides. He has now bowled 14 maidens this season, which is double that of Kember and Segundo (seven each), who are next best on that tally.
The Tourist innings never really got going as the side’s top five batsmen all departed for single-figure scores.
Cooper Brayshaw struck first for RSL when he dismissed Nick Tomlinson (4) with the assistance of a Thurston catch in the fifth over, and Trindall put his stamp on the innings in the sixth over when he bowled Baker (8) two balls after the Tourist Hotel man had put him over the fence for a six.
That made the score 2-16, which became 3-33 when RSL spinner Jake Brayshaw was introduced into the
attack in the 14th over and knocked over Duncan (9) during a wicket-maiden as Wheeler took the catch.
Tough then bowled the 15th over after already having produced 15 dot balls from his 18 deliveries, and he continued to impress as he dismissed Mark Page (4) with the assistance of a Jake Brayshaw catch as Tourist Hotel went into drinks struggling at 4-33.
Their day went from bad to worse in the 22nd over when Jason Paull (3) was run out by Nathan Trindall and the score became 5-42, but that left Meppem and Matt Conroy at the crease together and the experienced duo took their side into the drinks break at 5-66.
There was still a lot of work to do after the break as the chasing side required 69 runs to win, and the task at hand got trickier when Kember bowled Conroy (16) during the first over out of the break.
Segundo entered at number eight and smashed a quick-fire team-best 20 runs before he was bowled by Kember in the 35th over, and then when Meppem (11) was bowled by Trindall in the 36th the score became 8-90.
Ryley Tout (8) and Harry Pattison (3*) helped Tourist reach triple figures but their top and middle order had left the tail-enders too great of a task as Kember bowled Tout in the 39th over and then bowled Laws for a golden duck as Tourist Hotel were all out for 103 runs.
Kember (4-30 from 7.3 overs) was RSL’s best with the ball as he moved to the outright lead on the first grade one day comp’s wicket-takers tally. He and Conroy entered the match tied at the top with 14, but Conroy remained on 14 as Kember charged out to 18.
Trindall (2-34 from eight overs) and Cooper Brayshaw (1-9 from six overs) bowled well to back up their efforts with the bat to earn the three and two NDCA best and fairest points, respectively, and Jake Brayshaw (1-11 from nine overs, including three maidens) and Tough (1-18 from nine overs) claimed a wicket each and were superb economically.
The other NDCA best and fairest point went to Segundo for what was an impressive all-round game that included an entertaining 20 runs, two wickets and three catches, one of which was a diving left-handed screamer at slip.
The NDCA’s 2023/24 campaign first grade one day comp’s penultimate round will be contested this Saturday when RSL and Tatts meet at Collins Park while the Razorbacks and Tourist Hotel go head-to-head at Leitch Oval.
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