Western Zone’s defence of the NSW Country Championship began perfectly on Friday and Saturday with a six-wicket win over Riverina followed by an eight wicket win over Illawarra in Wagga.
Against Riverina, newcomers Marty Jeffrey and Stuart Naden starred with the ball – taking seven wickets between them – before Bathurst gun Josh Toole smashed an unbeaten 64 to get his side across the line.
Parkes’ Anthony Heraghty had a quiet game, only scoring eight runs.
Riverina won the toss and batted, but their total of 160 was never going to be enough as the defending champions chased the runs with little trouble.
Western lost a couple of early wickets, but Toole steadied the ship as his side recovered to finish at 4-161 in the 30th over.
The win was the ideal start for Western while Riverina coach Owen Thompson blamed his team’s inability to build a partnership as a key reason behind the loss.
“We didn’t get off to a bad start, it was a slow start, but we just couldn’t get partnerships going,” Thompson said.
“Instead of 25s, we needed one bloke to go on and score 70 or more.
“If we go that, we score 200, 225, and we’re in with a shot.
“We picked up a couple of wickets early on, we just didn’t have enough runs on the board in the long run.”
All of the Riverina top order made starts but were simply unable to go on with the job.
The day belonged to Jeffrey with the 16-year-old leg-spinner ripping through the Riverina tail to finish with 4-12 while off-spinner Naden finished with 3-41 from his 10 overs.
Riverina captain, Joel Robinson, and Albury’s Drew Cameron both top scored with 29, while late inclusion Jack Harper chimed in with 25 down the order.
In reply, Western struggled early with Anthony Heraghty (8) and Mitch Bower (0) departing inside eight overs.
Jake Hindmarsh (2-43) and Zac Simmonds (2-56) troubled Western and at 4-73 the game was still in the balance.
Enter Josh Toole.
The Bathurst blaster hit 64 from 44 balls to lead his side to a comfortable win while Jeffrey capped off a satisfying game by finishing unbeaten on 17.
Western took on Illawarra in match two, cruising to another comprehensive victory.
Tim Berry played a major role in restricting Illawarra to be all out for 152, claiming 4-24 off nine overs.
The run chase did not start well for Western with Heraghty dismissed before the defending champions had put a run on the board.
Their next wicket did not fall until they had reached 142 with Mitch Bower (90) and Jordan Moran (58no) leading Western to an emphatic victory.
Yesterday’s match three against the highly fancied Southern side was a better one for Heraghty individually as he scored 31 of Western’s 171.
The title holders were going to need a very good bowling performance if they were to qualify for the final against Newcastle next Sunday.
A final report of the match will appear in Wednesday’s Champion Post.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.