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Instonians in driving seat as rain ruins vital clashes in Ulster Bank Premier League

By Richard Bullick

The weather ruined Saturday's Ulster Bank Premier League programme but it still turned out to be a day of real significance for the title race with Waringstown being beaten.

Joint leaders Waringstown and Instonians were expected to pick up away wins ahead of their scheduled clash at Shaw's Bridge yesterday though each faced a significant challenge.

They had tricky trips to Carrickfergus and Lisburn respectively, but while Instonians reached their adjusted target at Wallace Park, Waringstown lost a rain-reduced game at Middle Road.

The Villagers were then denied a chance to undo the damage within 24 hours by beating their rivals thanks to an unplayable pitch at Shaw's Bridge where water had seeped under the covers.

The upshot is that Instonians are now four points ahead with three rounds of fixtures remaining thanks to successfully completing an exciting chase against Lisburn.

As Lisburn hadn't known their innings would be cut off at the 40 overs mark by the arrival of the rain, Instonians were faced with a revised target of 200 in reply to their hosts total 173 for seven.

Nikolai Smith, who had earlier taken three wickets, went cheaply but a century stand from former Ireland star Andrew White and Northern Knights skipper James Shannon set the visitors on course.

It still took a last over six from pro Rusty Theron to ease the tension as Instonians got home with three balls to spare just as Waringstown were being edged out at Carrick.

There the visitors had been able to complete their full allotment before the weather intervened to present Carrick with a reduced run chase of 218 in 35 overs.

It was a very competitive total of 258 from Waringstown, primarily built around half centuries from captain Lee Nelson and professional Cobus Pienaar in spite of four wickets for former Irish international Ryan Eagleson.

However, Waringstown were without one of Eagleson's contemporaries Kyle McCallan and the Ireland's legend's wily bowling was more missed than his batting.

Carrick pro Pat Botha did the main damage in blasting a wonderful 90 off only 49 balls but when he got out the hosts were second favourites again with wickets and overs running out.

Their eighth wicket pair came together with 33 required from 26 balls but they needed only 18 as each hit a six on the way to a win which consolidates Carrick's excellent third place.

Captain Nigel Jones has spoken of his hopes that CIYMS could come up on the rails with a late title challenge following four victories over the last two weekends.

Their home match with North Down fell foul of the weather on Saturday and it intervened too yesterday shortly after a half century from the skipper helped CIYMS post 175 for six in 35 overs.

Opponents CSNI had been thwarted by the weather the day before when they would have expected to ease relegation worries by beating basement side Derriaghy.

RESULTS: Ulster Bank Premier League: At Belmont: CSNI 175-6 (N Jones 52, J Kemp 38, J Matchett 27; A Blain 3-26) CIYMS 14-1. Match abandoned.

At Middle Road: Carrickfergus beat Waringstown by 3 wickets (DLS). Waringstown 258-8 (L Nelson 77, C Pienaar 58, J McCollum 34, G Thompson 25; R Eagleson 4-61, A Martin 2-34) Carrickfergus 218-7 (P Botha 90, J Burton 30, J Holmes 28; C Pienaar 3-32, L Nelson 2-30).

At Wallace Park: Instonians beat Lisburn by 5 wickets (DLS). Lisburn 173-7 (R Rankin 54, A Berry 44, Rsimpson 32; Nik Smith 3-19) Instonians 200-5 (J Shannon 80, A White 41, R Theron 39 not out; R McConkey 3-31).

Postponed: Civil Service North v Derriaghy, CIYMS v North Down.

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