Hosts fly into big one

Young gun: Lara Graham took 2-9 before hitting an unbeaten 24 as Tamworth beat Armidale to book a final berth. Photo: Gareth Gardner 120117GGB03
Young gun: Lara Graham took 2-9 before hitting an unbeaten 24 as Tamworth beat Armidale to book a final berth. Photo: Gareth Gardner 120117GGB03

While the Tamworth Blue side rolled Armidale cheaply to earn a home U14 carnival grand final at Riverside 1 on Friday the touring Central North side went the other way as they missed the Kookaburra Cup final after being skittled by Western in Griffith.

Tamworth Blue proved their mettle through the week after crushing Manly on day one the side had top bounce back after an upset loss to Nambucca Bellingen on Tuesday at Riverside 2.

The Bede Maher coached side gave themselves the best shot at a semi-final berth with a top draw win over Hawkesbury before cementing their place in the final with a comprehensive nine wicket victory over Armidale in Thursday’s semi-final.

Tamworth will be able to take plenty of momentum and even more confidence into Friday’s showdown against Hawkesbury after rolling the Sydneysiders for just 69 in the round games.

In that match U15 women’s representative stars Lara Graham and Jess Davidson guided the side home to an eight wicket victory with the bat, a feat which they repeated against Armidale in the semi-final at Dick Edwards Oval.

Armidale won the toss and elected to bat first, a decision they might have been ruing shortly afterwards as all four batsmen at the top of the order fell for less than five runs.

Josh Attard had the ball on a string as he fell a couple of the top order before cleaning up the tail to record tournament high figures of 5-26 from eight overs, while Lara Graham took 2-9 before starring with the bat.

“We had to bowl in shorty spells to beat the extreme heat and it worked well,” Maher said.

“Josh performed very very well and our consistent line and length paid dividends.”

Armidale’s number seven batsmen top scored with a very handy and resilient knock of 27 and was one of only two New Englanders to reach double figures with Ben Murphy finishing unbeaten on 15.

In reply Luke Maher (22) and Graham (24*) got the side off to a flyer before Davidson finished the job with 35 at a run a ball to cruise into Friday’s grand final at No 1 Oval.

“Jess was middling the ball beautifully and the girls were the stars of the day with bat and ball,” Maher said.

“The team are tickled pink to have the opportunity to play on No 1 Oval and in the final.” 

“When we beat them on Tuesday everything clicked for us and hopefully we can stick to our plans and it will work to our favour on the day.” 

Meanwhile in Griffith the Central North side performed well in the field to have Western all out for 116 as Thomas Druery took an incredible 3-4 from five overs.

In reply Tamworth failed to get any traction right through the order as they fell for just 53, with Hunter Ball top scoring with 15.