North Down are one match away from retaining the Ulster Bank Premier League title after powering their way to a 66 runs (D/L) success over Waringstown at The Green yesterday.
Much like the Premier League soccer action in England yesterday the big game, between the league’s outstanding two teams, proved a one-sided affair as Neil Russell and Ryan Haire both scored 80 and did much as they pleased against the seven-man Villagers’ attack.
A second heavy shower of the day prevented the game reaching a natural conclusion, but North Down were so far ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score that they did not even attempt to finish the match.
The home side’s revised target was 210 from 43 overs and when play was halted, they were 197 for two in the 34th over.
Russell finished 80 not out from 94 balls with 10 boundaries, six of them maximums, and Haire matched him stroke for stroke, falling in the penultimate over, attempting his third six, for 82 with 11 boundaries.
Kris Lyness, who took five wickets in Waringstown’s 10 wickets success against Ballymena on Saturday, was the only wicket taker yesterday (two for 46 from eight overs), but the difference in the results only underlined the gap between the top two and the rest in the NCU’s top flight this season.
North Down can argue their crushing victory yesterday underlined the gap between the top two but that would be unfair on Waringstown who have been without a professional for the last eight league games.
This was the first they have lost since Obus Pienaar left and no-one would argue that Waringstown would have scored many more than 244 for six yesterday if the South African had still been here.
But, you can only beat who’s in front of you and North Down, to their credit, stopped all the Waringstown bastmen, except Lee Nelson (73 from 79 with 10 fours), from reaching even 40.
Once Nelson was out, Waringstown’s innings withered as they managed only 60 off the last 12 overs — and that included Keith Morrison’s 18 from five balls!
On such a good pitch it was never likely to be enough against a North Down side in rich form.