Saunders leads Blues to first-innings points

 A five-wicket haul to Riverside bowler Alex Saunders helped the Blues gain first-innings points over Mowbray on the first day of their NTCA clash at Invermay Park yesterday.

The Eagles were dismissed for 64 in their first innings after being sent in to bat with only Michael Aram (17), Matthew Scolyer 14 and John Le Fevre (11) reaching double figures.

Saunders finished with figures of 5-26, off 15.2 overs and Riverside captain-coach Luke Richardson took 3-19.

The Blues were 4-126 in reply at stumps, a lead of 62 on the first innings with the game continuing today.

Riverside openers Tom Garwood and Cam Clarke batted well in an 82-run partnership for the opening wicket, with Garwood making 44 and Clarke 41.

''I think it was a combination of some good bowling and the conditions suiting the bowlers,'' Mowbray captain Le Fevre said.

''The wicket wasn't playing any tricks but there was a bit of sideways movement on the seam and the grass was fairly wet so the ball was not travelling through the outfield.

''We got bogged down a little bit and couldn't find ways to score runs and get on top of the bowling and they bowled consistent lines and length and at the stumps picking up about four or five lbws.''

Le Fevre said the Blues batsmen were more positive and batted better with the outfield drying out and quickening up.

Riverside can't make finals but with points all important in the battle for the top four, Le Fevre was hopeful the weather would hold out and Mowbray could bowl Riverside out on the second day to hold on to third spot.

WESTBURY ensured that George Town's season ended on a dismal note after routing the Saints in 12.2 overs and knocking them over for just 30, in reply to the Shamrocks' first-innings total of 9-445.

Matthew Battle and Nick Spencer did the damage with the ball with Battle picking up the excellent figures of 5-21, off six overs, and Spencer taking 4-9, from six.

Robbie Crane top-scored with 14 but the Saints batsmen failed to handle good bowling on a pitch that provided some early assistance.

There were six ducks in the George Town innings and the Saints lost their last five wickets without a run being scored.

Spencer and Battle were both on hat-tricks at different stages of the innings but failed to complete them.

''We didn't put them back in because we were assured of finishing on top regardless and we were pretty happy with the six points,'' Westbury coach Adrian Tudor said.

''There was some good bowling with a little bit of nibble in the pitch giving the bowlers some assistance early.

''They didn't blaze away and play bad shots but there was some really good line bowling from Matthew and Nick.

''The pleasing aspect for us was that Matthew got some wickets, which hopefully will give him some confidence heading into a finals campaign because we rely on him as a bowler as well as a batsman.''

SOUTH LAUNCESTON claimed first-innings points as its game against Launceston wrapped up at the NTCA No.1 Ground.

Resuming at 5-116, chasing the Lions' first-innings total of 123, the Knights survived for the first hour at the crease but were eventually dismissed for 169 with their not-out overnight batsmen, captain Sean Harris and Warwick Johnson, making 23 and 19 respectively.

Ben Fraser took figures of 4-53 for Launceston and Rowan Smith finished with 3-45.

The Lions started their second innings and, despite losing two wickets early, were able to recover and hold out the Knights' attack to be 4-112, when play finished, giving South first-innings points but denying them an outright victory.

''We wanted to bat until lunch and build our bonus points on the first innings to give ourselves the best chance of possibly finishing second or third so it was disappointing not to last to lunch,'' Harris said.

''We got our second wicket the ball before lunch and thought we were still a good chance of getting an outright to get into third place but after lunch, to Lonnie's credit, they knuckled down and batted time and shut us out of the game.

''It was good to finish off with a strong win and although it would have been nice to get an outright, we were still pleased with a first-innings victory.''

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