Greater Northern Raiders will be looking to stave off the indignity of their first outright defeat ever – and on home soil no less – after recent Hobart Hurricanes signing Lawrence Neil-Smith was quick to deliver the new side a reality check.
The 19-year-old Clarence firebrand destroyed the middle and lower orders to claim career-best figures of 8-27.
The Roos steadfastly ran down the Raiders’ meagre tally of 107 with more than an hour remaining in the day.
But buoyant Raiders coach Andrew Gower has not given up on turning things around during a character-building late fightback with the ball.
“The middle session was won by Clarence by a long way,” Gower said.
“But the fightback for me to have them seven-down at the end of play was fantastic.
“So I really think the boys have done a really good job: fought well, learned their lesson from bowling last week at Riverside, really hit some good lengths today, fielded exceptionally well and took some good catches too.”
After starting with a breezy 92-run opening stand, the visitors then lost 7-72 to finish with an 85-run lead and three wickets in hand.
It was Roos skipper Harrison Allanby who did all the early damage. He top-scored on the NTCA Ground deck, posting 72 off 110 balls and with opening partner Jesse Dinnie with 47 off 66, set up the emphatic victory.
But Raiders legspinner James Curran (2-36) and allrounder Ollie Wood (2-50) pulled their rivals back in the final session before Tom Gray (2-27) picked up two Clarence ducks, including prolific ex-South Launceston batsman Alec Smith.
The Raiders had initially started positively to be 3-88 at the lunch break.
Star No.3 batsman Jake Williams looked in control with 32 off 51 balls that included five boundaries.
But on resumption, it all fell apart for the hosts.
Tyler Dell (16) did not add a run to the score and Alistair Taylor (18) was Neil-Smith’s third victim after captain Miles Barnard was the form bowler’s first for just four.
The former Sydneysider took the last seven Raiders wickets for just 19 runs.
That included four ducks in a row to end the innings.
Gower was full of praise for the Big Bash recruit, who had recently returned from a UAE Twenty20 tournament.
“He bowled exceptionally well of good line and length,” Gower said of Neil-Smith.
“We haven’t faced that quality of bowling as yet.
“He just bowled really good areas and he didn’t give us anything. When he got those wickets after lunch, he got his back up. He then bowled with some really good heat and our guys weren’t quite at that level.”
Neil-Smith’s performance with a down breeze overshadowed state regular Sam Rainbird who was wicketless.
Gower was content for his young side to learn lessons to take into the rest of the year.
“I think we got a couple of decisions that didn’t quite go our way, so that really didn’t help either,” he said.
“But I think now that we realise that a guy who bowls 135km/h-plus and hits a length consistently, you just have to knuckle down, adapt and try and hang around.”