HUNTER Valley and Penrith will play off for the Walter Taylor Shield silverware in Armidale today at the expense of the two local hopes.
Hunter edged out hosts Armidale on countback to top Pool A while Penrith defeated Tamworth in their “semi-final” yesterday to finish first in the other pool.
It was between them for the spot in the final, being the only unbeaten sides in their pool.
Tamworth looked to have put itself in the box seat at Moran Oval when it rolled Penrith for 122.
“We were quite excited about that,” coach Dave Robinson said.
Keyton Hislop (3-30), Bill Buster (2-21) and Zac Walters (2-14) affected most of the damage but it was a good allround bowling performance.
Tryon Liddiard was Penrith’s top-scorer with 36 followed by Hugh Kermond (18).
Tamworth though failed to fire against some good bowling and was all out for 84.
Lachlan Cooke again came to the rescue at number nine – he also got runs on the first day – making 17.
Matt Hughes was the next best with 10.
“Unfortunately none of our key batsmen went on with it,” Robinson said.
Penrith was very disciplined with its bowling too and was well led by Matt Hunt (4-15) and Ryan Fletcher (2-15).
In the final it will face a Hunter side that at Lambert Park yesterday defeated West Pennant Hills/Cherrybrook by four wickets.
It was chasing only 86 and got the runs with almost 17 overs to spare, with Will Holz unbeaten on 31 and Kyal Cox making 25.
Holz also figured with the ball, nabbing 2-14 to go with Dan Bray’s 2-10 and Tom Krake’s 2-13.
James Denyer (19) and Stanton Tan (18) were the main contributors for West Pennant Hills/Cherrybrook while Cam McBrien (3-21) was its best with the ball.
The win took Hunter to 12 points, the same as Armidale after its 21-run win over Lismore at Harris Park.
Lochlan Elks was the star for the home side with a century and two wickets.
He opened and was impressive with the bat, making 135 and forming the spine of Armidale’s 214.
“He batted very well,” coach Henry Cupitt said.
“It’s probably the best junior innings I’ve seen for a while.”
He was Armidale’s dominant scorer, with Will Archer’s 14 the next highest but it was able to build partnerships around him.
Armidale then bowled Lismore out for 193 in the 48th over.
“We bowled pretty well,” Cupitt said.
“It was pretty hard conditions to bowl in all day. It was blustery.”
But he said the bowlers bowled good line and length.
They set the win up in the first session with Lismore 4-60 odd at the first drinks break.
Rhett James (66) and Kevin Ward (50) got them back into it with a good partnership in the middle but the home side was able to pick up wickets “at the right time”.
Matt Williams led the charge with 4-27, while Elks finished with 2-38.
Luke Marshall and Clancy Rowlands also bowled particularly well, Cupitt said.
Rowlands only went for 24 from his nine.
They’ll face Tamworth today in the play-off for third and fourth.
At Rologas, Ballina was too strong for the Armidale District Cricket Association Invitation XI.
The locals sent Ballina in and from there it went downhill, with the coastal side reaching 9-204 from its 50 overs.
Chris Watts (40) and Mitch Pearce (37) were a big part of that.
Tom Laschlie was the best of the invitational side bowlers with 3-39.
They could then only manage 88 in reply as Josh Haugh (5-12) tore through them.