Opening stands set up big wins for Easts and Hillgrove

THEY missed out on a likely win last week but Easts had such no issues on Saturday, thrashing Ex-Services by 167 runs.

Hillgrove meanwhile rebounded from its near-miss against Easts last week when rain ended the game prematurely, with a much more polished performance to upset competition leaders Armidale City and close to within two points of them.

Hillgrove batted first and made 7-166 from its 45 overs.

Michael Dawson (35) and Josh Croft (57) set the platform with a 91-run opening wicket stand.

“We were very patient with the bat,” Hillgrove skipper Brad King said. “We didn’t try to force the issue.”

Batting has been an issue for them the past few weeks. They haven’t been able to bat their overs out.

Dawson and Croft got them to about 80 at drinks, which allowed them to push on with it.

They lost a few wickets doing that with no-one else really making a big score – Lochie Elks was the next best with 12 – but it was enough to get them to a competitive total.

King said Andrew Skinner (1-25), Adam Sweeney (0-24) and Matt Morrow (2-13) bowled well for City early.

There was a bit of movement with the ball doing a bit off the deck.

City skipper Stephen Butler topped the wickets with 3-49.

City then got off to a pretty reasonable start with Skinner (14) and Brad Smith (29) putting on 34 for the first wicket, but it was a steady decline from there.

“We lost wicket after wicket after wicket,” Butler said.

They could only manage 105 with Steve Tanner (15) and Karl Triebe (17) the only other batsmen to reach double figures.

Mitch Moore and Cameron Wood were the destroyers.

Wood took the first three wickets to fall and finished with 4-26 while Moore nabbed 5-18.

In the other game Dean Moore and Ben Hanlan both hit half-centuries as Easts accrued 8-235.

Moore reiterated why he’s rated one of the best batsmen in the competition, making 90 at the top.

He was the linchpin of Easts’ innings, sharing a 72-run opening stand with Nathan Porter (24), and then after they’d lost 3-11 putting on a134 stand with Hanlan.

Hanlan finished with 74 and took to the attack, striking seven fours and three sixes in his knock.

Moore also played his shots, hitting eight boundaries.

They then bowled Ex-Services out for 68 with Moore capping a great allround game with 5-30 and skipper Sam Uphill claiming 4-23.

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