Trio battle it out at the top of Premier League

It’s tight at the top of the Robinson Services Premier League table with three teams all level on 12 points after another weekend of action in the Northern Cricket Union.

By Johnny Morton
Monday, 9th May 2022, 6:00 am

Lisburn – who enjoyed a rare weekend off after beating Cliftonville Academy by 10 wickets on Friday evening – are now the only unbeaten team in the top-flight.

They are joined by leaders North Down and CIYMS, who met on Saturday with the latter running out victors by a margin of six wickets.

In what was a repeat of last season’s Gallagher Challenge Cup final between two teams that will likely be challenging on all fronts again this campaign, North Down overseas professional Neil Brand carried his bat through the majority of the first innings to score a superb 110* from 122 balls.

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Chris Dougherty was in fine form with the bat for CIYMS. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Alistair Shields (27) and Tom Mayes (36) played supporting roles to Brand as the home side posted 242/8.

Ross Adair has started the season in fine form with both his new club and for the Northern Knights, and the destructive opening batsman continued in that vein, smashing 96 off 63 balls to set the platform for success.

He bludgeoned seven trademark maximums during a 129-run partnership with Chris Dougherty (89*) before being caught off the bowling of Peter Davison (1-26). Dougherty saw the job through to the end as CI picked up a crucial four points and improved their league record to three wins from four matches.

It was a mixed weekend for defending champions Waringstown as they beat Cregagh by 10 wickets on Saturday but were defeated by Carrickfergus off the final ball of the match the following day.

At the Cregagh Memorial Recreation Ground, Graham Hume (2-6) had early joy as he bowled the dangerous Jay Hunter and followed it up shortly after by collecting the wicket of Mark Johnston.

Aaron Johnston’s side struggled to put any significant partnerships together against some extremely testing bowling from a quality attack, as Ben Snell (4-12), Ross Allen (2-7) and Jamie Gibson (2-13) all combined to deny them any momentum.

It was always going to be a simple chase for Waringstown with Adam Dennison (18*) and captain Lee Nelson (39*) capping off an impressive afternoon for the Villagers.

On Sunday, Morgan Topping (51) top-scored in a rearranged Twenty20 fixture as Waringstown posted 142/6, but half-centuries in reply from Carrick duo Jacques Snyman (54) and Jeremy Lawlor (52*) secured the points for the Middle Road outfit.

Elsewhere, Woodvale picked up their second league win of the season as Ruhan Pretorius inspired them to victory over CSNI at Ballygomartin Road.

CSNI made early breakthroughs after winning the toss through stand-in captain Luke Georgeson (3-41), who dismissed both James Hall (9) and Harry Warke (21) to leave Woodvale sitting on 42-2. That had brought Pretorius to the crease and although wickets continued to fall around him with regularity, he was able to keep his composure and ended just shy of a century after being caught off the returning Georgeson.

Chasing 210 for victory, the Stormont side collapsed from 46-0 to 49-5 as Paul Robinson (3-20) and Aditya Adey (2-7) put their side in the ascendancy and they were able to get the job done despite a spirited partnership between Chris McMorran (26) and Corin Goodall (38) providing some resistance.

Also, Instonians picked up their second win in a matter of days as they followed Wednesday’s triumph over Woodvale with another against Cliftonville Academy.

Max Burton (40) top-scored for the visitors after they were asked to bat, finishing their 50 overs on 194/8 with Instonians captain Andrew White (3-31) pick of the bowlers.

Brian Anderson (1-26) picked up the early wicket of Oliver Metcalfe (11) but that brought James Metcalfe (53) to the crease alongside Adam Ly (69*) and the duo put on a partnership of 101 before the former was trapped lbw by Burton (1-33).

Cade Carmichael (36) scored at a fluent rate to get his side to within touching distance of victory and Ly finished off the job with 12 overs to spare.

In the Gallagher Challenge Cup first round, Dundrum, Bangor, Muckamore and Ballymena all sealed progression after wins on Saturday.

A magnificent bowling performance from Stian Swanepoel (6-17) helped Dundrum bowl Lurgan out for a measly 31, with seven of the visiting batsmen dismissed without scoring before the County Down side easily chased the target to set up an all-Section One second round encounter with Derriaghy.

Bangor had to survive a late scare at Donacloney Mill to secure a trip to Lisburn after winning a thriller by four runs, while James Kennedy will return to former club CSNI after his half-century helped Ballymena record victory over Templepatrick.

Muckamore’s reward for beating Saintfield by 40 runs is a trip to Premier League side Cregagh, with all matches being played on June 4.