Knockout highs and lows for North Down

North Down's Ruhan Pretorius. Pic by Pacemaker.
North Down's Ruhan Pretorius. Pic by Pacemaker.
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It was a weekend of mixed emotions for North Down as they exited the Gallagher Challenge Cup but progressed to the second round of the Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup with victory over Donemana.

On Saturday at The Green, they took on an Instonians side that were coming off a convincing 10-wicket win over Cork County and got off to the worst possible start when opener Daniel Graham was ran out in the first over.

Things would only go from bad to worse for the home side after AJ Moor skied one to mid-wicket off the bowling of Ben Rose and he was quickly followed back to the shed by Stuart Nelson and overseas professional Ruhan Pretorius as North Down crumbled to 18-4 in the eighth over.

Captain Alistair Shields and Ryan Haire tried their best to stabilise but runs were proving hard to come by as they reached 50 from 20 overs - and when Shields nicked one behind off James Magee, the innings had an ominous feel to it.

Instonians didn’t look like a team that had lost their opening three Premier League matches and showed a killer instinct to finish the innings off, with Andrew White claiming 4-15 and James Magee ending with three wickets.

Magee was hugely impressive from ball one of his spell, bowling with great pace and causing the North Down batsmen all sorts of problems.

It was a really poor effort from the Comber men on such a big occasion and in a competition that they’ve historically thrived in and really targeted for success.

Instonians’ openers, Nikolai Smith and Ollie Metcalfe, were fresh off a 236 partnership against Cork and continued on in similar fashion, reaching their 50-stand after nine overs.

Craig Young was more than up for the challenge and was regularly challenging both batsmen, who had mistimed bouncers for six which just goes to show the pace with which the Irish international was producing.

He would get his reward when Metcalfe chipped to mid-off for 35 and when Smith was caught behind off the bowling of Pretorius, it was left to Murray Commins and White to see Instonians over the line and secure what was a straightforward win.

Shields would have been much more pleased with Sunday’s showing as a half-century from Pretorius sealed their spot in the Irish Senior Cup second round with a five-wicket triumph.

CUP DRAWS - Clear Currency Irish Senior Cup second round: Pembroke v The Hills, CIYMS v Merrion, Rush v Instonians, Bready v Phoenix/Eglinton, Clontarf v Carrickfergus, North Down v CSNI, Malahide v Waringstown, Leinster v Strabane. Clear Currency Irish National Cup second round: North Kildare v Balbriggan, Cregagh v Derriaghy, Terenure v Downpatrick, Ardmore v Killyclooney, Limerick v Railway Union, Midleton v St Johnston, Laurelvale v Templepatrick, Ballymena v Fox Lodge.