First hour vital in close battle

THE first hour of play on day 2 will be critical in deciding the result of the NTCA clash between Launceston and Riverside at NTCA 1 tomorrow.

The Blues will resume at 2-20 in a bid to chase down 200 and gain a first-innings advantage.

Opener Cam Clarke is 8 not out with Tom Garwood and Paul Mackrell in the sheds.

Riverside captain-coach Luke Richardson, who claimed 5-48 last week, said he would prefer to be only one wicket down at this stage in the match.

He said Tom Hay was unavailable and would be replaced by Matt Shipp.

``With one or two good partnerships we are still capable of getting there,'' he said.

``The game is in the balance and we know we will have to bat well.

``If we can get through the first session and not lose any more than two wickets, it will leave us in a good position to push on from there.''

Launceston captain Rowan Smith said his team's number one priority was securing first-innings points.

``Early wickets will be the key; if we can get two or three in the first hour it will set the game up in our favour,'' Smith said.

``We have only got 200 on the board so we don't have much to play with.

``Last week it was difficult to bat for the first hour  so it will be interesting to see how it will play.''

GEORGE TOWN coach Rohan Pooley said Mowbray's top order batted well on a tough wicket - applying itself through difficult periods.

Mowbray set the Saints 262 thanks largely to a Clinton Reid 77 and 57 from Michael Aram.

Justin Reeves claimed two late wickets to have George Town 3-16 in reply.

``I am proud of the effort the boys have been putting in all year as it has been a tough year for us,'' Pooley said.

``We have been thin on depth this year and had a few boys playing well above their level but they keep turning up and giving it a crack.

``We won't be talking about any plans and the boys out there at the moment just need to take every delivery as it comes.''

Scott Driessen will come in for Scott Semmens.

Eagles skipper John LeFevre said forecast damp weather could aid his side's ambitions to claim seven wickets quickly, before pushing on in its second innings.

``The key is to bowl good line and lengths,'' LeFevre said.

``They have still got Marshall [Pooley] and Harry Boland at the wicket, who both hold the key to their batting line-up, so hopefully we can break that partnership.''

WESTBURY captain Dane Anderson said his side was defending a par score at Shaws Oval but admitted his side was on top with South 3-18.

The Shamrocks made 240 but Anderson's main strike bowler, Nick Spencer, will miss day 2 after taking two wickets late on the first day and will be replaced by swing bowler Justin Curbishley.

``It will be a good opportunity for the rest of the quicks and I think Michael Lukic will be quite important as well,'' he said.

South Launceston captain Sean Harris said his bowlers created chances last week but the team's overall fielding effort let it down.

He said bad fielding gifted the Shamrocks about 60 extra runs.

``It is disappointing to be three down with both our openers and number three out it is going to be a massive challenge for us,'' Harris said.

``We need someone to stand up this week and score a hundred.''

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