Victory keeps Barr’s men in title hunt

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Coleraine II’s fine season continued - going two points clear at the top of the league - by defeating rivals Newbuildings in a fiery top-of-the-table clash, by 37 runs.

Things were far from plain-sailing, with Newbuildings collapsing despite having dominated for much of the game. Requiring 63 runs with seven wickets left, the Newbuildings lower order could only manage a further 23 despite the foundations laid by Tommy Thompson (57) and Jason Brown (36) during a 92 run stand for the fourth wicket.

It was a tribute to Coleraine’s pugnacious display, having been inserted on a green top after Peter Wallace lost the toss. Rory Knox marked Coleraine’s intent by depositing a six over square leg off the second ball of the match while Matthew Douglas (18) looked splendid having completed a 50-run opening stand.

The introduction of slow bowling during the middle proved the undoing of Coleraine’s prodigious middle order as Craig Averill, his brother Mark and Steven Harper were all enticed into playing the big shot after Knox meekly chipped one to midwicket having looked well set on 44. Despite falling from 95-2 to 132-6 Coleraine proved no pushover.

Matthew Smyth battled hard with Peter Wallace before the former knicked off after a 27 run stand. Kyle Martin offered a most timely reminder of his talent in scoring 21 to supplement Wallace’s valiant 30 as Coleraine posted a somewhat middling total of 196 on a pleasant batting track.

Buoyed, Kyle Martin bowled beautifully first up, dismissing Dean Mehaffy for four as Newbuildings struggled to find the boundaries to match their intent in the face of some tight bowling. Mark Averill’s introduction saw the demise of Graeme Robb and Steven Wallace, the latter caught elegantly at second slip by Rory Knox to one that nipped away from the left hander.

In fairness, Thompson and Brown batted bravely from 43-3 after 15 overs, injecting the necessary tempo to complete A memorable away victory. Matthew Smyth once again showed his dynamism in the field however, catching an absolute skier at deep backward square having ran 15 yards and dived to his right. When Matthew Douglas snaffled a thick edge from Ben Brown while standing up to Rory Knox, Coleraine were back in the game.

Mark Averill with 3-27 and Kyle Martin’s 4-18 made heroic contributions, bowling with accuracy and pace as seven wickets fell in the space of 10 overs as victory was secured.

Nigel Barr commended the team’s self-belief.

“Newbuildings was a good side,” he said. “They came hard at us but we refused to let them dictate the whole thing. Everyone pulled together but we still have a lot to do before now and the end of the season if we’re to win that league so we do now.”

Coleraine have four games remaining, including a trip to Donemana next Sunday. The latter’s defeat to Fox Lodge this weekend means that four teams are still vying for the Qualifying 1 crown. With victories for all four Coleraine teams during the weekend, confidence is high throughout the club.