Clarence teams missing from final for first time in 15 years
NORTH COAST CRICKET: For the first time in about 15 years there will be no Clarence Valley based representative side competing in the final of the North Coast Cricket Council First Grade Inter-District competition.
Lower Clarence held on tightly to the Clarence Valley's last hope of making the final until they were defeated by Nambucca Valley at the weekend.
The win was Nambucca Valley's second win in the competition for the past five years - the first coming earlier in this season's competition in a surprise upset against Clarence River.
North Coast Cricket Council president Brendan Cunningham said the surprise rise of the Nambucca Valley side brought a little more excitement into the competition.
"Nambucca have been a real surprise packet this year," he said. "They have a core group of youngsters all around the same age who have come through the ranks in the last couple of years.
"It has been a real coming of age for their side this year with a couple of good wins against the Clarence sides.
"It is a nice change, because you don't want to see the same one or two sides dominating the competition year after year."
Nambucca Valley earned their spot in the final following a dominant performance against the Lower Clarence representative side last Sunday.
With a thought of extra juice in the wicket, Lower Clarence captain Luke Many won the toss and sent Nambucca into bat. But the plan backfired on the Lower captain as Nambucca went on to post 186 through the efforts of Andrew Budd (68) and Austyn Nugent (36).
Wayward bowling was costly for the Lower side as they racked up 35 runs - the third highest total on the batting card - in extras, including 27 wides.
Despite another top class knock from opening batsman Nathan Ensbey (60) a lack of partnerships cost Lower as they fell almost 30 runs short.
"We thought there was a bit of juice in the wicket but it turned out not to be the case," Ensbey said. "They had the chance to put on some decent runs and did well to make 180-odd.
"We were confident going into bat but we just lost too many wickets at a consistent rate. The wicket was a little two-paced during our innings and the boys probably picked the wrong balls to go after."
Ensbey praised the efforts of Hayden McMahon (32) who along with Ensbey put together a partnership of 58.
"Hayden batted pretty well out there," he said. "He was probably the pick of our bowlers."