Fired-up Firth takes five
BY ADRIAN MILLER
WESTLAWN Grafton Hotel secured first innings points in their Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League cricket match against Harwood, with class all-rounder Andrew Firth claiming five wickets.
Chasing 203 for first innings points, Harwood looked to be in control at 2-169, but a combination of slow batting and excellent bowling restricted the hosts to 8-188. Firth was pivotal, taking 5-19 from 19 overs in a superb display of controlled bowling.
Harwood started solidly with openers Jason Hughes and Ed Munday taking the score to 54, before Firth claimed Munday lbw for 20.
Hughes followed in the next over, bowled by Tim Grosser for 37, which brought Craig Moran to the wicket.
Along with Nathan Ensbey, Moran helped take Harwood to the comfortable position of 2-78 at tea.
After tea the two looked set to bat Harwood to victory by playing cautious, sensible cricket. However, the game was turned on its head when the 104-run partnership was broken.
Shaun Ulrick sprinted 20 me- tres to take a brilliant catch at mid-wicket off skipper Tony Blanch's bowling to dismiss Moran for 53, giving Westlawn a glimmer of hope.
Westlawn's chances were helped soon after when Matt Young was bowled for 0 by Blanch.
Firth then stepped up to devastate Harwood and wrench the game from its grasp.
He dismissed Ensbey lbw for 53, Peter Hickey lbw for 2, and finished up by removing Matt McKee and Matt Ensbey without scoring.
Westlawn captain Tony Blanch said the catch taken by Ulrick changed the game.
"The turning point in the match was when Shaun took that catch, that set the scene for the comeback," he said.
He said with Harwood so far above Westlawn on the table, it was an important result for his side.
"With them 12 points in front of us, they could have wrapped up the minor premiership, but they shut up shop. They should have won easily but never really tried to chase the target," he said.
"In the next couple of weeks we will be pushing for outright results."