LAYBUTT KNOCK SINKS MACLEAN
By TONY WHITE
AFTER a defiant last wicket stand, the batsman's death knell ? that distinctive sound of stumps rattling ? signalled the end.
Contrasting emotions began to overflow.
Triumphant Grafton High School players congratulated bowler Tim White and each other as they broke into a victory dance with high fives and pats on the back.
Maclean High School batsman Evan Rice dropped his head in a despondent manner as if the weight of the world had suddenly beset him, and began the long trudge back to the pavilion with diminutive partner, Richie Tabour, who earlier played in the Under-14 final.
However, Rice should shoulder no blame. He played some glorious strokes and scored 15 runs, better than all but one of his teammates, opener Tom Martin (16).
The entertaining final of this year's Daily Examiner shield schoolboy cricket competition at McKittrick Park, South Grafton, provided Grafton High with back-to-back titles and continued the school's dominance of the competition over the past 13 years.
A sterling 77 by Daniel Laybutt, which earned him man of the match honours, supplied the backbone to Grafton's total of 152.
Mitch Ware (20) and Simon Wilson (17) provided able support.
Lower Clarence junior representative cricketer Aaron Jones took 3-24 to top Maclean's wicket-takers.
The target was certainly attainable. Maclean though, weakened by the loss of two key batsmen and fielding several Under-14 players, struggled against some classy bowling when its run chase began.
Young Westlawn Premier League quick, Rohan Hackett, bowled superbly and was strongly supported by Dan Colling.
Hackett fired down seven overs, and while wicketless, he bowled five maidens and conceded just five runs.
Colling had five overs for one maiden and seven runs.
Bryce Speechley proved to be Grafton's strike bowler, converting the pressure in to wickets. The slow scoring rate ? Maclean attempted to see off the early onslaught with wickets in hand before attacking later in the innings ? took its toll.