It's tight at the top of the Premier League

Five teams are level on eight points in the Robinson Services Premier League after Saturday’s round of fixtures, giving an early sign this could be one of the most competitive campaigns in recent times.
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At Belmont, 126* from CIYMS opener Chris Dougherty helped inspire the defending champions to an eight-wicket victory against previously unbeaten Carrickfergus.

Without Nigel Jones, Mark Adair, Graham Kennedy, John Matchett and Allen Coulter, it looked like it could be an uphill task for CI, especially when Iain Parkhill (56) and Jacques Snyman (71) were in full flow.

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The pair put on 115 for the second wicket before Snyman was caught off the bowling of Carson McCullough (3-39) and Parkhill was bowled by Chris Robinson (3-23).

Carrickfergus’ Iain Parkhill batting against CIYMSCarrickfergus’ Iain Parkhill batting against CIYMS
Carrickfergus’ Iain Parkhill batting against CIYMS

Neill Gill (31) added some late runs to help Carrick reach 235 all out in the final over and got their defence off to the perfect start as Jack Beattie was caught behind off the first ball of the innings.

That brought stand-in captain James Cameron-Dow to the crease alongside Dougherty and the pair superbly broke the back of the run-chase, putting on 175 for the second wicket.

Cameron-Dow took on the responsibility, putting himself up the order and scoring 71 before he was dismissed with 61 still required.

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Dougherty brought up his century soon after and continued to underline his status as one of the finest batsmen in the NCU, leading his side to victory alongside Jason van der Merwe (31*).

There was another inspired performance from Andre Malan (99) at The Lawn as Waringstown scored 322/7 before Kyle McCallan picked up remarkable figures of 6-22 as the Villagers recorded a comprehensive 111-run victory over Woodvale.

Malan has started the season in superb form once again and came within a run of his 11th NCU century with an innings that included 11 boundaries but was run out by Aditya Adey as he attempted to reach another deserved landmark.

It was a partnership of 132 alongside Greg Thompson (76 from 43) that ultimately took the game beyond Woodvale and although their chase got off to a solid start, McCallan picked up three wickets in his first five overs.

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Harry Warke (29), James Hall (33) and Adey (19) all departed before the score had reached 90 and McCallan continued to collect six of the first seven wickets to fall.

Thompson (2-8) ended a determined 61 final-wicket partnership between Sunny Stephenson (44) and Pavan Karthik (17*) to secure a comfortable win.

North Down made it back-to-back victories as they bowled Instonians out for 124 before chasing their target in 32.4 overs to record a six-wicket triumph.

Tom Mayes (4-17) was the pick of the North Down bowlers and only James Hunter (65*) provided any real resistance for the visitors, coming in at number three and carrying his bat throughout the innings.

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Alistair Shields (27) and Ryan Haire (27*) made sure of the points and it puts the Comber outfit back on track after an opening defeat to Carrickfergus.

CSNI also now sit on eight points after Stuart Thompson (5-26) and Luke Georgeson (79*) helped secure a nine-wicket victory against Lisburn at Wallace Park.

Georgeson – who played for the Northern Knights on Friday before returning to club duty – picked up the crucial wicket of Faiz Fazal (24) while Matthew Foster (2-29) struck twice to dismiss Robert Rankin and captain Adam Berry.

That set the platform for Thompson to rip through the middle order as the home side were all out for 124.

Boyd Rankin bowled Andrew Cowden but that would be the only wicket Lisburn picked up as Georgeson and Paddy Beverland (42*) steered the Stormont side home.