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Instonians stay in touch at the top after victory over Carrickfergus


By Ian Callender

Instonians bounced back from their defeat to Gardiner Bros Premier League leaders North Down on Saturday to beat Carrickfergus by three wickets in yesterday's only game.

It keeps the defending champions in touch with the three teams above them, eight points behind the leaders but only four behind Waringstown and CIYMS with a game in hand.

Captain Nik Smith and Andrew White set up the victory at Middle Road with a second wicket stand of 122 in their pursuit of Carrick's 241 and it was the patience of James Shannon and the big hitting of young Ben Rose which saw Instonians home by three wickets with two overs to spare.

It was the perfect response by Rose who had dropped Carrick professional Pat Botha on 15 and the pain was piled on with every one of the South African's next 60 runs.

But coming to the middle with 29 still needed, Rose hit three fours and finished the match with a six from only his 11th ball, as the experienced Shannon, who was suffering from a back spasm and did not come in until No 6, watched on admiringly from the other end.

Botha had seemed on course for a century until he was caught at backward point by Eugene Moleon, who answered the call, in yet another comeback, as ­Instonians are without a trio of pace bowlers in Rob McKinley, Stephen Bunting and James Magee.

Moleon had figures of one for 21 in his five overs but was out of the attack when Ryan Eagleson launched his late assault which brought him 47 runs from 37 balls, and included his 10,000th run for Carrickfergus.

Last season's leading wicket-taker then, finally, took his first of this season to dismiss former team-mate Jordan McClurkin and he quickly added his second, Nathan Smith. But that brought in Shannon and although he lost Moleon and James Hunter, to give Carrick hope of a third win of the season, it was Rose who had the last say.

Shannon (87) and Nathan Smith (57 not out) had got Instonians up to 208 at North Down on Saturday but an undefeated 98 by Alistair Shields saw the Comber side home with two overs to spare as they confirmed their early lead is no fluke and they are in the title race for the long haul.

Next up for North Down is a double header against Waringstown, with the postponed Twenty20 Cup game on Saturday and their league game, scheduled for Saturday week, has been brought forward to Sunday to give both sides a day's break ahead of their big Irish Cup quarter-finals on July 9.

After a slow start, it is Waringstown who are the in-form team and James Hall is the in-form batsman.

Hall followed up his unbeaten 91 in last Sunday's Irish Cup win over Coleraine with 111 from 104 balls with nine fours and eight sixes to make a huge dent in Carrick's 247-6 (Jamie Holmes 69 not out).

It left the Villagers needing 59 from 12 overs with seven wickets left and Lee Nelson (50 not out) and Greg Thompson (31 not out) saw them home with more than four overs to spare.

Lisburn still prop up the table and on the evidence of Saturday's defeat by CIYMS it will need a huge improvement if they are get away from the relegation place.

They crashed from 43 for two to 64 all out as Matt McGillivray took five for five from six overs and David Robinson three for 10, the RBAI pupil dismissing Gionne Koopman who scored 37 of Lisburn's 58 runs off the bat. CI knocked off the runs for the loss of Chris Dougherty in 10.1 overs.

Civil Service North claimed their second win of the season at Moylena, superbly defending 181. Five bowlers shared the wickets as Muckamore were dismissed for 144, Kasigo Rapulana top scoring with 60.

CSN's highest partnership was only 48, for the fifth wicket, but Graham McCarter hit 58 to set up a vital victory.

Yesterday's scores

Middle Road: Carrickfergus 241 (49.3 overs, P Botha 75, R Eagleson 47, A Haggan 22; A White 3-43, Nik Smith 3-56, Nat Smith 2-51) Instonians 242-7 (48 overs, Nik Smith 85, A White 68, J Shannon 31 not out, B Rose 20 not out; D Poulton 2-30, R Eagleson 2-31). Instonians won by three wickets.

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