Harwood snatch thriller
By TONY WHITE
TALK about fluctuating fortunes.
The match up between reigning premiers Westlawn Crown Hotel and Harwood Hilton at McKittrick Park went right down to the wire.
Set 201, Westlawn's run chase began disasterously when fill in opener Rob McReedie was dismissed first ball, lbw to Kane Aeschlimann.
Young gun Brendan Purser, one of the Valley's most promising cricketers was joined by the Valley's best, Andrew Firth.
The pair steadied the ship combining for a crisp 63-run partnership before Purser (34) fell lbw to Greg Firth, who had just been introduced to the attack.
While Andrew Firth, who made a century on debut this season stood defiant with ebullient strokes flowing from his bat, Aeschlimann and Firth then made great inroads into the Westlawn top order, having the premiers in trouble at 5-73.
Enter skipper Tony Blanch. Blanch and Firth, good mates and old sparring partners, used a combination of guile and elegance to push the Westlawn total to 5-151 and back in control.
Harwood were missing talented spinner and all rounder Peter Hickey, ab- sent with skipping duties. Luke Harradine then sent Blanch to the pavilion after a gritty 30. Firth and Jason Chevalley then pushed Westlawn to withing 20 runs of victory before a master stroke by Harwood captain Tim McMahon to reintroduce Craig Moran, who had been wayward in his opening spell. Moran removed Chevalley for 7 and Firth for 94, both caught behind. Firth's innings was full of bril- liance and belligerance. His em- phatic start to the season under- lined his enormous worth to the Westlawn team. With Andrew Whitseside bowl- ing tight from the other end, Moran managed to snare the final two Westlawn wickets. Westlawn lost its final four wickets for just 7 runs (all out for 189) when it was in a posi- tion to ensure first innings points. Such was the nature of the ebb and flow of the match. Moran finished chief wicket taker with 4-33 and Aeschli- mann, 3-47.