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Defiant O'Brien stands tall to help Warriors hold off Lightning

 

By Ian Callendar

A century fourth-wicket stand between Niall O'Brien and Steve Lazars inspired the North West Warriors to hold out for a draw in the Inter-provincial Championship clash against holders Leinster Lightning at Oakhill.

It was the third draw out of three so far, with Lightning now two points ahead because of their maximum bonus haul.

But the Warriors bettered their first innings total by 61 runs in a fine rearguard display. They batted for 109 overs, just long enough to keep their hosts at arms' distance. It left Lightning with just 17 overs to bat and they were 44 runs short of their 167-run victory target when time ran out.

It could have been very different, however, if O'Brien had not been dropped at extra cover on 21. The Ireland wicket-keeper cashed in, staying another 55 overs and adding 66 valuable runs. By the time he was sixth out, the Warriors' lead was only 94 but Stuart and Johnny Thompson put on 50 for the eighth wicket before both were victims of George Dockrell, who bowled 41 overs, including 16 unchanged before the second new ball, and finished with six for 107.

The Warriors have made three changes to the team that will face Munster Reds when they return to Twenty20 action this evening at Eglinton (5pm) and, for the first time this season, they have not selected an overseas professional.

William McClintock, Andy Britton and Ricky-Lee Dougherty replace Irosh Samarasooriya, Andrew Austin and Niall O'Brien, who does not play T20 cricket, while Graham Kennedy, 12th man at Oakhill, retains his place in the squad.

Andrew Balbirnie, who missed the final two days at Oakhill with a recurrence of his hip injury, sits out Lightning's game at Shaw's Bridge this evening, but Kevin O'Brien and Tyrone Kane are fit to return.

Warriors: A McBrine (capt), S Thompson, C Young, D Rankin, W McClintock, J Thompson, A Britton, S Lazars, RL Dougherty, G Kennedy, D Scanlon, R Allen

Scores: North West Warriors 235 (A McBrine 67, D Rankin 47, S Thompson 31; S Singh 3-59) and 296 (N O'Brien 87, S Lazars 62, S Thompson 40, J Thompson 25, D Rankin 22; G Dockrell 6-67, E Richardson 2-37, P Chase 2-77) Leinster Lightning 365 (E Joyce 156, L Tucker 56; C Young 3-70, D Scanlon 3-79, A McBrine 3-91) and 123-3 (J Tector 48, S Singh 27; S Thompson 2-17). Match drawn

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