VALIANT EFFORT: Coutts Crossing all-rounder Eli Fahey top scored for Clarence River as they struggled in a run chase at Macksville.
VALIANT EFFORT: Coutts Crossing all-rounder Eli Fahey top scored for Clarence River as they struggled in a run chase at Macksville. Debrah Novak

Clarence River falter in low scoring run chase

NORTH COAST CRICKET: A top score of 26 was almost enough for 15-year-old Clarence River all-rounder Eli Fahey to steal a victory from Nambucca Valley on Sunday, but it wasn't to be with the visitors falling an agonising eight runs short at Thistle Park.

It was a disrupted start to the North Coast Cricket Council Inter-District clash at Macksville after a rain-soaked pitch delayed the start of the contest and reduced each side's overs down to 40.

After winning the toss and electing to bat Nambucca were not going to waste the opportunity with openers Justin Saker (25) and Jack Ireland (12) digging their heals in against Clarence River opening bowler Mitch Kroehnert (0 for 23 off 5).

But when Brayden Pardoe (3 for 21 off 7) had both openers snared in quick succession and first drop Brodie Bartlett (1) trapped in front shortly after the momentum appeared to swing.

Enter Nambucca Valley captain Josh Bartlett. The man who single-handedly dismantled Clarence River in last year's corresponding upset was at it again scoring freely on his way to a handy 31.

However, wickets soon fell all him as Jake Kroehnert (3 for 3 off 5) and Jack Weatherstone (3 for 5 off 3) dismantltled the tail.

Clarence River pace bowler Brayden Pardoe said the ball was moving about a lot under an overcast sky.

"Mitch (Kroehnert) was getting a fair bit of movement in the air and off the deck, he was just unlucky not to get a wicket," Pardoe said.

"The outfield was also pretty lush so we weren't expecting a lot of runs to be scored. Still it was a total we should have chased down."

Clarence openers Billy Kerr and Tom Kroehnert played out a shaky start but once the wickets began to tumble there was nothing the visitors could do to stop the rot.

Nambucca 15-year-old opening bowler Luka Grace (4 for 22 off 9) had the ball on a string bowling consistent line and length troubling the Clarence River side, while Josh Bartlett (3 for 29 off 10) also made consistent inroads.

Fahey alongside first grade captain Luke Cox (25) mounted a fightback in the middle overs with the pair notching a 41-run partnership. But once Cox was removed the steady flow of wickets continued with Clarence River bowled out for 105 off their 40 overs.

"It was pretty disgraceful in the end," Pardoe said. "A couple of the fellas really got themselves out in the end."

SCOREBOARD: Nambucca Valley 113 (J Bartlett 31, J Saker 25, J Baldwin 18, J Ireland 12, A Budd 10; J Kroehnert 3/3, J Weatherstone 3/5, B Pardoe 3/21, B Cotten 1/37) def Clarence River 105 (E Fahey 26, L Cox 25, J Kroehnert 16, T Kroehnert 12; L Grace 4/22, J Bartlett 3/29, J Ireland 2/13, J Baldwin 1/15).

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