Narrabri RSL Cricket Club’s second grade side ensured they would finish Narrabri District Cricket Association’s 2023/24 second grade competition with 100 points at the top of the table following a dominant seven-wicket victory against Tatts at Hogan Oval on Saturday.

RSL entered round 11 having already secured 86 points with two rounds to go, and with a round 12 bye guaranteeing them seven more points, a win would ensure that they would finish the regular season having reached the impressive triple-digit milestone. They got the job done easily as they restricted Tatts to 85 runs in 37 overs and chased down the required total just three wickets down in 21.3 overs.

The five-time defending champions have been on a roll again during the 2023/24 campaign. After losing their first-round contest back in October they have won all six one day matches they have played to go with three byes and a washed-out draw. That would have usually left them on 68 points going into the final round, however, the T20 matches are included on the overall ladder this season, and the 25 points they picked up from three wins and a washed-out draw in the short format campaign take that up to 93, which of course will become 100 after this weekend’s bye.

Tatts batted first on Saturday in the round 11 clash at Hogan Oval after their skipper Jesse Packer won the toss, and the side needed to get off to a positive start as they lined up with just nine players. However, RSL made an early breakthrough as Darcy Anderson knocked over Packer (3) in the fifth over as Max Hunter held onto the catch that made the score 1-12.

That left fellow opener Rod Kirk at the crease with his daughter Taryn and the pair remained in the middle together for more than 19 overs as they combined for a 31-run partnership. It was the father-and-son duo of Craig and Gabe O’Connor who ended the partnership as Gabe took a catch from his dad’s bowling in the 25th over to dismiss Taryn Kirk (3) to make the score 2-43, which became 3-43 from the final delivery of the over as Hunter took his second catch of the day to remove Nick Stewart for a duck as Craig O’Connor finished the over with a double-wicket-maiden.

O’Connor claimed his third wicket with his first delivery of his next over as Hunter took his third catch of the day to send Jake Cooper (1) on his way to make the score 4-45.

Ben Redfern then entered the middle and he scored six runs in a 33-run partnership with Kirk before being bowled by Anderson in the 34th over. That wicket kicked off Tatts’ second collapse of 3-3 as Kirk (64) was caught by Anderson in the Hunter-bowled 35th over before Robert Packer (1) was caught by Mick Dowdell in the Anderson-bowled 36th over.

Hunter took the final wicket of the innings with the last ball of the 37th over when he bowled Rhett Myers (1) as Tatts finished all out on 85.

It was a remarkable innings from the comp’s top run-scorer, Kirk, who scored 64 of those 85 runs. He struck two boundaries during a patient innings as he showed his experience to help guide his side towards a total that they would hopefully be able to defend. That knock saw him climb to 344 runs this season with one game to go as he wrapped up the batting aggregate award. He is averaging 43 across nine innings and can no longer be caught by RSL duo Mick Dowdell (270) and Max Hunter (183), whose side will sit out with a bye in the final round of the regular season this Saturday while Tatts challenges Tourist Hotel.

Craig O’Connor (3-16 from four overs) was RSL’s best with the ball, while Anderson (3-23 from eight overs) also took three and Hunter (2-5 from three overs) took the other two. Their teammates Dowdell (0-12 from eight overs), Justin Saunders (0-15 from eight overs) and Gabe O’Connor (0-9 from six overs) all bowled superbly as well as the trio produced economical spells that helped create pressure that Tatts found too difficult to overcome.

After impressing in the field and also with the ball, Hunter opened the batting for RSL and he produced an unbeaten team-high score of 27 to guide his side to victory. He combined for a 19-run opening partnership with Tyson Gilmore (10), a
23-run partnership with Kyle McIlrick (14) and a 23-run partnership with Gabe O’Connor (10) before he and Josh Buckthought (7) produced a 22-run match-winning partnership.

Cooper took Tatts’ first wicket when he bowled Gilmore in the ninth over and then Rod Kirk took the next two when he knocked over McIlrick in the 10th over and O’Connor in the 18th, both with the assistance of Robert Packer catches.

Hunter was awarded the three NDCA best and fairest points for what was a superb all-round effort and Kirk picked up two for his brilliance with both bat and ball as he backed up his half-century with team-best figures of 2-16 from four overs. The other point went to Craig O’Connor.

Tatts will take on Tourist Hotel in the final round of the regular season at Hogan Oval this Saturday while RSL sit out with the bye.

To order photos from this page click here