Coleraine II season soared into life on Thursday night, defeating leaders Newbuildings by seven runs in a T20 thriller at Brigade.
This was no mean feat considering the power and might of the home side’s batting and the perceived weakness of Coleraine in the shortened format.
Batting first amidst glorious sunshine Rory Knox (37) and Mark Averill posted 65 in eight overs following the early loss of Peter Wallace - whose off stump was sent cartwheeling to a ball that kept alarmingly low.
Undeterred Knox and Averill ran with intent while the latter punished anything short before being adjudged LBW for 24.
From a strong start Coleraine’s innings stuttered during the middle overs as Newbuildings bowled with accuracy.
Steven Harper became the mainstay, contributing 23 while releasing the pressure by using his feet and disregarding the pitch’s difficult nature.
Wilson Torrens was dismissed while attempting the paddle sweep ineffectively. Curtis Cooke added the necessary impetus hereafter, smashing 24 – 18 of which were accumulated off the final over to demoralise the home side.
By far the cleanest hitting of the night, the intensity of the youngster’s innings spurred the bowler’s early on in the second innings as Knox (2-25) dismissed captain Peter Allen and leading run-scorer Wallace, despite his initial punishment.
Despite regularly losing wickets, Newbuildings continued to hit out as Thompson, Brown, McClussland and Robb all made it to double figures before perishing.
Coleraine were clearly shaken however as five dropped catches testifies but Matthew Smyth and Mark Averill in particular, kept their cool.
Despite being deposited for consecutive sixes, Smyth claimed another to his collection of superlative catches by running 20 yards and grasping a steepler of his own bowling during a crucial four wicket spell.
Tensions mounted, and the final over leaked 10 off 3 leaving Newbuildings requiring 8 from 3 before Knox took a very smart catch to support the brave bowling of Jonny Martin (1-30) who sought the Yorker despite having been punished for his full length previously.
Speaking from holiday in Italy, team manager Nigel Barr was philosophical in quoting Giuseppe Garibaldi.
“Ci rivedremo fra poco per marciare a nuovi trionfi - We shall meet again before long to march to new triumphs. We have every chance of winning that league,” said Barr clearly buoyed by the excellent victory his troops had recorded in his absence
Victory brought Coleraine IIs level with Newbuildings before last Saturday’s game which saw the Londonderry side go two points clear again with a convincing nine wicket win over Brigade II.
Coleraine will be hoping to close the gap this weekend as they entertain Bready Seconds in an important double weekend at the top of Qualifying One.