City have emerged as Armidale Cricket’s first grade front runners after beating a dominant Hillgrove side in their round five clash on Saturday.
Hillgrove hadn’t played a side who batted out their 45 overs and kept every opposing team to under 100 until they took on City.
A strong performance with the bat was needed if City were to upset the reigning premiers.
Andrew Skinner and Andy Sawyer set the tone with a 29-run partnership.
Michael Allen (45) stepped up along with captain Kyle Taylor (49).
City finished on 7-161.
“Our batting really stood up on the weekend which was really good,” Taylor said.
“We had a plan to win the toss, fingers crossed, and bat first and see if we could post a good score.
“At the start of the game the boys said they wanted about 200 runs but with the bowling attack we took in there, I said anything over 160 to 180 would be a reasonable target batting first.”
Hillgrove’s run chase was dealt a blow early when Dan Hogan bowled opener Matt Baillie for a duck.
Karl Triebe sent fellow opener Andrew Brownlie (8) back to the sheds before Hillgrove captain Matt Schaefer (28) steadied the innings.
Triebe (3-38) picked up the key wickets of Schaefer and Brad King while Dylan Yeomans also nabbed three.
Skinner grabbed one while Simon Stubbs bowled Hillgrove’s top scorer Dick Heagney with 35 runs for Hillgrove to be all out for 138.
In the other game, Easts returned to the winner’s circle after a month-long absence as they downed Guyra.
Guyra won the toss and went in to bat.
Openers Troy Martin and Ryan Walker departed early with Jackson Gwynne landing the double blow.
Easts bowler Tyson Burey dismissed Nick Page for one and Guyra were on the back foot. Matt Finley stepped up to the crease for the visiting side and managed his team’s top score of 27 before he fell to Todd Francis.
Francis finished with four wickets as Guyra were all out for 92. Easts captain Sam Uphill claimed one while Matt Jackson nabbed two.
Easts’ openers then started much the same as Guyra’s with Dean Moore returning to the sheds with a duck and Aaron Whackett departing on two.
Francis made his impact felt again with the bat as he soared to 38 while Clarrie Moran added 37 to chase down Guyra’s total.
Uphill said one change was made during the week with brother Luke’s performance in second grade last week too good to ignore.
“Dean Waters was the unlucky one. He went back to second grade and batted very well back there so that was good,” he said.
“Luke Uphill came up after scoring 100 in seconds and didn't get a chance to have a bat so that was also a good result.”
With a slight shake-up needed to kick his side into gear, Uphill said the rest of the first grade team could well face the possibility of a demotion to second grade should they not lift their game.
“It's going to be that way all year. If our second grade keep going – they had a really good win on the weekend and beat a good TAS side and had a really strong batting performance - a few of us could get tapped on the shoulder and saying 'listen we need runs scored or you'll be in second grade,' which is a nice problem to have,” he said.