A FINAL round of McDonald’s Tamworth Twenty20 will be played at Riverside on Friday with the final to be played on January 10.
McDonald’s, who lost their first game last Friday, are already through to the T20 final and their opponent will be decided in this Friday’s game between The Albert Hotel and Halpin’s Plumbing.
Halpin’s head in with the upper hand and only need to win to secure a spot in the final after toppling the previously undefeated McDonald’s by 22 runs last Friday night.
They recovered from some early Greg Kellett-induced trouble to post 9-154 and then restricted the competition leaders to 8-120.
“It was a good win,” Halpin’s captain Tim Kensell said.
Especially from the position they were in.
They lost Simon Norvill in the first over and were looking a bit shaky at 4-45.
Kellett was largely responsible for that, snaring 3-38 from his four overs.
“Everyone tried to hit him out of the attack,” Kensell said.
But it proved an unsuccessful ploy against the wily spinner.
It put Halpin’s on the back foot, a situation they’ve been in a few times in the competition.
“We seem to have that problem (losing early wickets),” Kensell said.
Fortunately for Halpin’s, Nick Pearson managed to stick around.
He was the backbone of their innings, batting right through and scoring almost half of their runs.
He was run out for 64 (from 54) on the last ball.
Kensell also chipped in with 37 and put on 79 for the fourth wicket with Pearson.
It was a crucial partnership and really got Halpin’s back in the game.
“In any form of cricket if you have those partnerships you can put the bowlers and fielders under pressure and change momentum,” Kensell said.
He still thought they were probably 20 runs short.
That didn’t matter in the end, with McDonald’s batsmen uncustomarily not firing.
They were looking okay at 2-50 but lost 4-16 and never recovered.
Cal Rowe was the top scorer with 25.
Kensell thought all his bowlers did a good job.
“We tried to take the pace off the ball against their batters.
“We made them make their own pace,” he said.
That worked well for them.
Across the road at Dick Edwards Oval, The Albert got off to a flyer against Steggles.
They were 0-32 after five and 1-64 at the halfway point but only managed to turn that into 8-131.
The top three provided the bulk of the runs, with Nick Leyden making 36, skipper Adam Jones 24 and Matt Everett 23.
Jones was a bit disappointed with the total but thought it was probably worth an extra 15 with the outfield.
Jamie Hammond was the one who really put the skids on The Albert.
He got both Leyden and Everett and finished with 4-21.
Steggles then had an early setback, losing Jake Hawkins in the first over and really found it hard going against the slower Albert bowlers.
They were only 2-18 after five.
“Crowey (Josh Crowe) and Stu (Plant) set it up for us early,” Jones said.
“They bowled well.”
Both bowled their four overs straight and for not many, with Plant only going for 12 and Crowe 18.
“I just think early on it’s harder to score with the slower bowlers,” Jones said.
Stand-in skipper Ben Middlebrook (57) then found a few willing allies and got Steggles back into it.
But on the final ball of the 18th over he nicked one behind off Jones.
It turned the game back in The Albert’s favour.
At that point Steggles needed just 20 runs, which Middlebrook was capable of getting, Jones said.
In the end they fell 11 runs short.
Jones was also impressed with Richie O’Halloran (1-22) bowling at the death.
“The 12 overs out of the spinners was the key,” he said.
Middlebrook, too, was happy with his side’s bowling effort.
“I thought the guys bowled really well and really kept to the game plan,” he said.
He was hoping to keep them under 140 and was pretty happy chasing 130.
“Their spinners bowled well,” he said.
“Crowey and Stu kept us down.”
Once they saw them off they were able to pick the pace up and managed to keep “in touching distance”.
They just couldn’t quite get there.