WESTBURY fast bowler Nick Spencer put in an outstanding performance in what is likely to be his final game for the club with an eight-wicket haul to put his team on top on the opening day of the NTCA grand final yesterday.
Spencer picked up the excellent figures of 8-34, off 16.1 overs, as he cut a swathe through the Mowbray batting line-up to help dismiss it for 105 in its first innings.
Mowbray captain John Le Fevre would have rued his decision to bat first after winning the toss as the Eagles' top order crumbled in the face of good Westbury bowling, slumping to 5-37 in the first hour, after the start of play was delayed due to wet surrounds.
A 42-run partnership for the sixth wicket by 16-year-old Fletcher Seymour and Michael Aram helped rescue the innings.
He top scored with a knock of 42 and along with Aram's patient innings of 14, the pair was largely responsible for getting the Eagles to 105, off 51 overs.
Westbury batted for about the last 90 minutes of the day and was in early trouble at 1-0, after Ric Considine removed opener Matthew Battle for a duck in the second over.
Sean Stevenson and Shamrocks captain Dane Anderson then consolidated the innings but Mowbray struck two late blows inside the last hour, dismissing both batsmen to have Westbury 3-56 at stumps.
Le Fevre admitted it had not been a great day with the bat for his team.
``The wicket was a little bit proppy but not too bad and Westbury just bowled really well,'' he said.
``We got to about 19 without loss and then lost the top five batsmen for give or take 15 to 20 runs.
``Fletcher batted really well and took the game on and showed what positive cricket can do.
``Nick Spencer bowled well and being tall helped him with the bounce and Jonathan Chapman backed him up really well from the other end and we weren't able to tough out that hour and a half early when the wicket was still a little bit wet.''
Le Fevre said a couple more quick wickets in the first session today could put some pressure on Westbury and it remained to be seen where the game would go.
Westbury coach Adrian Tudor was full of praise for Spencer's performance and said his side needed a good first session on the second day.
``Nick was brilliant and is an evergreen who just keeps getting better,'' he said.
``Unfortunately this is his last game so it is going to be a massive loss for the club because he just seems to do it week in and out.
``And I don't want to sell Jonathan Chapman short because they bowled beautifully in a partnership too even though Nick got the wickets and didn't allow Mowbray to get away this morning.''
Tudor said he was reasonably confident of getting another 50 runs but said the wicket had proved hard to bat on with 13 wickets for the day for 160 runs.