The Ulster Bank NCU Premier League title race could go down to the wire after leaders Instonians slumped to defeat to Waringstown on Sunday night at Shaw’s Bridge.
North Down, who produced a brilliant bowling display to see off CIYMS at The Green on Saturday, are right back in contention as they prepare to face Inst in a title showdown next weekend.
Inst will have a few mental scares to heel after a spectacular batting collapse against the villagers. Eugene Moleon’s team lost their last eight wickets for 30 runs to slump to 98 all out chasing a target of 250.
Inst are effectively a victory ahead of North Down but a win for the Comber men at Shaw’s Bridge on Saturday would see the sides level-pegging. Neither has an easy run-in on paper. North Down still have to visit Lisburn and Civil Service North while Inst have to face the dangerous Stormont side home and away.
Waringstown, who have won five of the six 50-over matches they played against Instonians and North Down in league and cup this season, still require a strange sequence of results to drag them back into contention.
The villagers produced a superb batting display at Shaw’s Bridge with James Hall smashing 87 and Greg Thompson 55. However, they will be ruing the shock defeats they suffered to Ballymena and in particular CIYMS earlier in the season.
At the bottom Lurgan are in desperate trouble, marooned on their own with just three wins from 12 matches. CI, crowned champions less than a year ago, continue to go from bad to worse after losing nine wickets for 14 runs against North Down, but the four-point cushion they currently enjoy over Lurgan should ensure their safety for another year.
In the North West it’s still all to play for at top and bottom. Glendermott breathed fresh life into their survival bid by beating Strabane on Saturday to send Bready back to the bottom of the table. Brigade and Coleraine both recorded wins at the top with the Bannsiders still holding a narrow advantage.
In Sunday’s Ulster Plate final at The Lawn, North Down seconds beat Waringstown by 19 runs.