Clarence River opening batsman Matt Pigg impressed with the bat before returning to haunt Lower Clarence with the ball.
Clarence River opening batsman Matt Pigg impressed with the bat before returning to haunt Lower Clarence with the ball.

River claim thrilling victory

CLARENCE River held their nerve in the final over to clinch a thrilling one-run victory over Lower in round 2 of the North Coast Inter-District competition at Yamba on Sunday.

In the end it was a classic cricket encounter and for newly appointed Clarence River captain Doug Harris, it was a game which tested his composure under pressure.

“What can I say - it was an amazing game of cricket,” a relieved Harris said.

“They needed seven off the last over and after they edged one through slips for three things became very tense.

“I brought Chris (Adamson) back on to bowl the last over and he showed all his experience. They needed three off the last ball to win but Ado bowled a beautiful delivery into the blockhole and they only managed to scramble through for a single.”

Asked if he was nervous when thrown the ball Adamson said his main priority was not to bowl a wide.

“Andrew Lancaster said to me with three overs to go that the pressure will be on me to bowl the final over. I told him if I don’t bowl a wide we’ll win the game,” Adamson said.

“I just tried to bowl full deliveries so the batsmen couldn’t get under the ball and hit a six... it was a case of bowling yorkers.”

Clarence River got off to a sizzling start through openers Matt Pigg (58) and Brett Woods (48) who combined for a 113-run partnership.

Lower then applied the brakes, taking wickets at regular intervals thanks to captain Matt Ardrey, who after removing both openers, snagged the prize wicket of Matt Blanch for 13. River were eventually dismissed for 209.

“Piggy and Brett set the platform for a huge total but we lost our way and lost a few cheap wickets due to some tight bowling by Lower,” Harris said.

“Jason Rainbow played a sensible knock and got us back on track, he showed plenty of patience. It was disappointing we didn’t bat the full 50 overs... after a start like that we should have scored more runs.”

Nathan Essex and Matt Ardrey claimed three wickets each for Lower.

Lower’s innings hit a snag early when Alex Davidson fell to a Brad Chard delivery but as he has done so often this season star batsman Geoff Simmons (49) took it upon himself to steady the ship and keep the runs ticking over.

Harris conceded the game could have gone either way but when Simmons and the dangerous Nathan Ensbey departed the game quickly swung back in Clarence River’s favour.

“Simmons and Ensbey were looking dangerous and we were desperate for a breakthrough. We got a couple of wickets and all of a sudden we were on a roll,” Harris said.

“Piggy and Nick Ada came on and bowled awesome spells, they got us back on top. The game then took another turn. Lower fought back through Aaron Jones and Luke Many... they needed a run-a-ball; it got very tense out there.

“In the end it was a great game of cricket and I was proud of how the boys performed, especially young Brad Chard who bowled well at the death.”

Harris said having experienced heads around him made his job much easier.

Lower Captain Matt Ardrey was understandably disappointed with the narrow loss but said his side now needs to focus on their next game against Nambucca in two weeks.

“It was a close game, I’d rather lose by a 100 than lose by one run,” Ardrey said.

“They (Clarence River) got off to a flyer and at one stage were none for 100. I was pleased in the way our guys fought back.

“We tied them down and to restrict them for just over 200 was a great effort. I thought we should have been right to get the runs.

“Matt Pigg and Nick Ada stemmed the flow of runs and kept things tight.

“I think we’re still in the running and if we can beat Nambucca in our next game we can still make the final.”

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