DEMOLITION: Harwood take 18 in a day to secure outright
CRICKET: Harwood have opened the door on the North Coast Premier League minor premiership and subsequently earned a weekend off after the side pulled off an outright win in a day against Coffs Diggers.
Led by a supreme fielding effort from Hayden Ensbey, who finished the match with three run-outs, Harwood took 18 wickets in the day, while Diggers could only manage three.
With an outright result in mind, Harwood captain Nathan Ensbey elected to bowl after winning the toss - a first for his captaincy.
It proved to be the right choice, after the attack overcame a fast start from Stephen Meakins (43) to bowl Diggers out for 104 off 36 overs. Luke Many, the NCPL leading wicket-taker, led the way with the cherry, taking 4-17 off 10 overs.
Harwood went out to bat with intent, with Brandon Honeybrook (56), Harry Bird (63*) and Ben McMahon (56) all scoring half-centuries as the side declared at 3-179 after only 19.3 overs.
It gave Harwood enough of a lead to go for the jugular, with spinners Hayden Ensbey (1-14), Jacob McMahon (2-30) and Doug Harris (1-15) dealing out the damage.
With only 10 minutes left in the day Diggers declared at 8-74, one run behind Harwood's total, to hand the home side the outright and save returning up the highway for a brief session early next week.
"I am stoked that we got double points,” Ensbey said. "We had spoken as a team about the fact we wanted maximum points.
"We went into the game with a really psoitive outlook we won the toss and elected to bowl which is something I have never done.
"It took us over an hour to get the first wicket, and I was wondering if I had doen the right thing, but once that first one fell they just kep coming.”
Scheduled for the bye next round, Harwood will now have three weeks off the field before the semi-finals start on March 9.
"It is not ideal and it would be good to play cricket all the way up to the finals but that's not the case,” Ensbey said.
"It might be allright to have one weekend off to settle down those niggling injuries. It has been a pretty busy period with weekend games and representative fixtures, so a bit of extra time off can't hurt.
"We might try and organise something with a team locally that has the bye, just to keep the match fitness for finals.”