Firth spearheads Westlawn victory
By TONY WHITE
AT 2-80 chasing Westlawn Crown Hotel's first innings 151, South Services were sitting pretty in the Bananacoast Community Credit Union Premier League match at McKittrick Park on Saturday.
But in an amazing turnaround, South eventually capitulated, losing its next eight wickets for just 62 runs to be all out for 142.
Westlawn scored first innings points then hammered the nail into South's coffin scoring 8-231 in their second innings, Daniel Purser with a brilliant 80no.
South captain Brett Woods, who scored a solid 35no before being caught by wicket-keeper Simon Wilson off Andrew Firth's bowling, had predicted Westlawn were not to be underestimated prior to the final day in the two-day match.
South looked to be cruising early on resuming at 1-33, but an incredible collapse, with four lbw decisions and inspired bowling by Firth and Nathan Blanch, turned the match.
Firth finished with 6-72 from 22.5 overs. In six pin-point overs Blanch had figures of 3-25.
The run out of South top scorer Matt Kroehnert (65) by Blanch's father, Westlawn skipper Tony Blanch, was crucial. A direct hit by Blanch from mid-off all but killed off South's resistance.
Outside of the top three batsmen, Stuart Jonker was the only South player to break double figures with 14 runs.
"It was a great win to get away with," Nathan Blanch said. "Especially as it was so close at the end."
Blanch jnr was on a hat-trick at one stage after removing Jonker and Jason Thompson in successive balls after coming on as first change bowler after Firth and Rohan Hackett (0-42).
"Matt Kroehnert defended it easily," Blanch said of the attempted hat-trick ball.
"The boys were really pumped before the match. We had a good talk beforehand and decided to grind it out."
Several lbw decisions and others that were not given were the talking point following the tense game.
Firth once again proved why he is the Valley's leading cricketer with a brilliant bowling spell when Westlawn most needed someone to rise to the occasion.
Apart from Purser's brilliant 80no, opener Daniel Amos struck form with 65 in Westlawn's sec- ond innings.