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Villagers on top as CI blow Ulster Bank Premier League chances


By Ian Callender

CIYMS started the weekend with a chance of becoming Ulster Bank Premier League champions. They ended it with Instonians threatening to rob them of third place.

At least yesterday's performance against the Shaw's Bridge side was a distinct improvement on their batting display on Saturday when they were bowled out by title favourites Waringstown for just 68, but even an extra 114 runs on their home pitch yesterday resulted only in a 50-run defeat.

James Shannon was the dominant batsman, scoring 101 from 95 balls with seven fours and four sixes - he scored his last 41 runs in 16 balls - and Jay Magee, not introduced until the 42nd over, wrapped up the CI tail with four wickets for 14.

It was a fifth defeat of the season for CI but it was the fourth which proved the killer blow in a remarkable game at The Lawn.

Bowled out for the third lowest score of the Premier League season inside 22 overs, they stormed back to reduce Waringstown to 55 for eight, more than half of those runs scored by Ruhan Pretorius (28) in his last game for the club.

But the Belmont side, for whom Johnny Thompson and Trevor Britton each took three wickets, couldn't finish the job as Johnny Bushe and Gary Kidd inched Waringstown home, their unbroken ninth wicket stand of 14, the fourth highest of the match.

Pretorius, who is replaced by fellow South African Juan de Villiers for the Villagers' run-in, which includes Saturday's Irish Cup final against Merrion at The Lawn, failed to take a wicket but Phil Eaglestone took the first four to reduce CI to 50 for four and Kidd (3-7) and Kyle McCallan (3-6) spun through the rest in 7.5 overs.

Waringstown's victory means they can clinch the Premier League title on Wednesday, because of their superior run-rate, with victory at Lisburn in a rearranged 20 overs game.

Incredibly, the game at The Lawn wasn't the quickest win on Saturday. Almost an hour earlier, North Down had taken only 9.5 overs to knock off the 75 runs for victory against Lisburn who lost their last six wickets for four runs.

The last four all fell lbw on the same total in five balls from Jacob Mulder which included a hat-trick. Robert Rankin scored exactly half his side's runs with Ricky Simpson the only other batsman in double figures.

Despite another heavy defeat, Lisburn are all but mathematically safe from relegation because Ballymena lost to Carrickfergus and, four points behind with just one match remaining, the Braidmen have a much inferior run-rate and already facing up to life in Section One next season.

Despite scoring only 11 runs in the first 10 overs on a slow damp pitch, Ballymena made 145 for nine in their 50 overs with Azeem Ghumman, in his last match, scoring another half century and sharing a third wicket stand of 85 with John Glass (40).

But Carrick had lost only two wickets in reaching 83 from 26 overs (Michael Gilmour 35 not out) when the rain hit Eaton Park and the DLS sheet showed they were a comfortable 27 runs ahead, ensuring an extended stay in the top flight for last year's Section One champions.

Yesterday's inter-provincial Cup game between North West Warriors and Leinster Lightning was called off on Saturday afternoon because of a waterlogged Strabane pitch. Lightning had already been confirmed champions and the teams take two points each.

Merrion's Tom Stanton has been called into the Lightning squad for the first time for the three-day Championship match between the teams at Bready, starting tomorrow (10.30am) as replacement for Kevin O'Brien who is still troubled with the hamstring injury which kept him out of last week's one-day international against Australia.

Ulster Bank Premier League: Belmont: Instonians 232-6 (J Shannon 101, E Layard 64, J McClurkin 45; J Matchett 2-21, J Cameron-Dow 2-34) CIYMS 182 (48 overs, C Dougherty 44, T Smith 29, J Matchett 26; J Magee 4-14, A White 2-29, Z Rushe 2-30). Instonians won by 50 runs.

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