NCCC CRICKET: Closest finish imaginable
A SINGLE wicket was all that stood between Lower Clarence bowing out of the 2014-15 North Coast Cricket Interdistrict competition and the chance to exact revenge on rivals Clarence River.
Clarence River, Coffs Harbour and Lower Clarence all finished equal on 15 points with two wins each after the final round on Sunday.
The final standings were determined by a quotient in which runs for, runs against, wickets lost and wickets taken are all taken into account.
It takes a mathematician to work out this year's grand finalists after one of the closest finishes imaginable on Sunday.
"I was writing the quotient rule on my leg on the bus trip home," Lower Clarence opening batsman Matt Farrell said.
"The impression we had from the phone calls was Coffs Harbour had scored the runs against Clarence River seven wickets down.
"We were celebrating on the bus because we thought we were in. That was until I read the paper the next day - they were only six down. We had a shocker in the first game against Grafton. A few more runs against them would've been helpful.
"We knew they'd get through with two really big wins. But ideally it would've been nice if they won again on Sunday."
Illustrating just how close the equation was, Lower Clarence similarly would have qualified had they dismissed Nambucca Valley at Macksville for five runs less. As it was, Lower Clarence posted 8/262 courtesy of a blistering start from Brett O'Connor, who blasted 72 off 29 balls, which included eight sixes, before he was dismissed at 1/93.
The next seven wickets fell for 57 runs before Matt Ardrey (36) settled the ship and Zac Honeybrook (52no) helped boost the total.
"Brett hit a six off the first ball and teed off from there," Lower Clarence captain Ben McMahon said.
"Meanwhile, it was the best innings I've ever seen Zac play. He batted really smart and put it away when it was there to hit."
Honeybrook followed up with three wickets, so too did Jacob McMahon, as Lower Clarence used nine bowlers to clean up Nambucca Valley for 113.
"I gave all the young fellas a bowl and they did the job for us," the skipper said. "They're the team of the future."
Round 3, Sunday
Coffs Harbour 6-249 (R Gardner 86, D Rootes 65; J Kroehnert 4-54) def Clarence River 9-244 (T Tilse 69, M Dougherty 54; H Bassi 3-34) at Ellem Oval, Grafton.
Lower Clarence 8-262 (B O'Connor 72, Z Honeybrook 52*) def Nambucca Valley 113 (Z Honeybrook 3-4, J McMahon 3-22) at Thistle Park, Macksville.
Final Standings (points, quotient)