Easts scrape into semis

EASTS Cricket Club first grade team has survived by the skin of its teeth to claim the last finals spot against a fast finishing Westlawn at McKittrick Park last weekend.

Easts began the day in pole position, needing only 12 runs to claim first innings and with enough wickets to put the result beyond doubt.

However, with victory in sight, Easts began to falter and Westlawn, sensing a remarkable turn around, began to claw its way back into the reckoning.

Rohan Hackett and Ben Hill returned to the crease to resume hostilities but Hill (0) was immediately sent packing by John Blanch (6/44), sending jitters through the Easts camp.

The loss of Hackett (15) did not ease the nervousness, but the magical first innings mark of 128 runs was eventually reached, only to be celebrated with the wicket of Zac Channells (0).

Easts could only manage another ten runs as Westlawn began to ramp up for its last chance for a miracle victory.

“Brendan Purser's prayers were answered and we came out batting on a wet wicket,” Easts captain Ben Hill said.

“(But) they bowled well ... and our guys really only wanted the last twelve runs and go home.”

Westlawn, needing an out right to maintain its position on the ladder, could not afford to play from the back foot and took the initiative to force an outcome.

Openers Purser (27) and Daniel Amos (26) quickly grabbed back the lead, but it was Brad Inmon (40) who pushed the score towards a declaration total.

The loss of Robert Kean (9) was enough for Westlawn captain Purser and he called his troops back in with a lead of 106 runs.

“We managed to bat for around 20 overs and then bowled really well,” Purser said.

Easts lost openers Ben Hill (4) and Greg Watkins (6) early in its second innings, but Tim Whalan (19) managed to keep the score card ticking over.

Disaster was waiting around the corner though, as John Blanch (2/15) and Nathan Blanch (4/25) ripped through the next five Easts batsmen in the space of six runs.

However, Easts were saved by the sinking sun, and at the close of play, had managed to stave of a fighting Westlawn to claim its spot in the finals.

“It was a tough wicket in the second innings,” Hill said.

“The boys are keen and ready to go for the finals.”

Purser said Westlawn had made all the running in the first half of the campaign but could not maintain its momentum.

“I'm a bit disappointed in the second half of the season,” he said.

“(But) we will learn from it.”

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