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Knights put sorry Warriors to sword as crisis deepens

 

By Ian Callender

North West Warriors must beat Leinster Lightning with a bonus point in the final match of the Inter-Provincial Cup in September after crashing to another defeat at Eglinton yesterday.

The Northern Knights won a low scoring game by two wickets - their first 50-over win of the season - with only three batsmen making more than 20. It was a third straight success for Knights after ending the recent Twenty20 festival with back to back wins.

But what has happened to the Warriors? All-conquering for the first half of the season, including the better of two draws in the Championship against previously invincible Lightning, they have now lost four in a row, including all three at the T20 Festival.

Andy McBrine won the toss on a pitch which showed unpredictable bounce from the start, but it was no excuse for only three batsmen reaching double figures and using up only 38 overs.

Then, when the Knights went out to chase 140 - it was only that many because of a last wicket partnership of 24, the second highest of the innings - McBrine used only five bowlers, leaving Ryan Macbeth, Aaron Gillespie and, most surprisingly of all, Ross Allen on his home ground, watching and wondering why they were being ignored.

McBrine backed himself to do all the damage, bringing himself on in the seventh over and, although he had to wait until his sixth over to get a wicket, he was bowling well.

When he took two wickets in two balls to end the first over of his second spell, to reduce Knights to 112-6, it was game on.

But although Graham Kennedy completed a team hat-trick, McBrine's success only made the absence of Allen from the attack even stranger.

Neil Rock and Jacob Mulder averted any crisis with the winning post in sight and, although Mulder gave his wicket away with five runs still needed, Stephen Bunting hobbled to the middle and hit the winning boundary with 11 overs to spare.

Bunting joined the never-ending Knights' injury list when he pulled up with a hamstring problem in his fifth over.

At least the Knights don't have to replace him for the three-day Championship match between the teams at Bready, starting this morning, as he wasn't selected.

Niall O'Brien was responsible for shepherding the Warriors through all but 10 balls of the innings after the early mayhem when Mark Adair ripped through the international top order to leave the home side 24-4.

Kennedy stayed with him for nine overs, but that was as good as it got for Warriors on another day to forget.

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