The final day of the Country Championships couldn't have started any better for the Central North men.
After recording their first win of the tournament on Saturday, Sunday's fixture against Greater Illawarra began in a similarly positive vein when Josh Trappel won the toss and elected to bat.
On a flat, batter-friendly No. 1 Oval wicket, in perfect conditions, Simon Norvill (88) and Adam McGuirk (82) quickly set about building a mammoth partnership of 135 for the third wicket.
But then it all went sideways.
Norvill was out attempting a second-consecutive slog-sweep six, just 12 short of what would have been a thunderous hundred, and only one Central North batter would make it into double figures following his dismissal.
From 2-161, they only added 70 more runs for their last seven wickets.
"A bit disappointing," Central North coach, Tom Groth, said of their batting innings.
"I think we had six overs left, so with 36 balls we were probably looking at [a total of] 280. We were probably 30 or 40 short there.
"It was a great start from Simon and Adam, and we just lost a few wickets towards the end there. I think we lost 4-9 at the back end."
231 is a good total on most days, but against arguably one of the strongest batting lineups in the competition, it was most likely not enough.
And, continuing the form that saw them put together an opening stand of 245 on Friday, Greater Illawarra openers Ethan Debono (56) and Bailey Abela (43) got off to another superb start.
Even after the pair's 88-run opening stand was broken, Jack McDonald (45 not out) and Cooper McDonald (74 not out) picked up where they left off to finish off the run chase for the loss of two wickets with almost nine overs remaining.
"They played well, and at the back end of the carnival, the wicket was pretty flat," Groth said.
"Their openers were seeing it pretty well ... they probably just outplayed us, to be honest."
But, he added, there was plenty to be happy about from a Central North perspective.
"We've got a good little group there," Groth said.
"Hopefully we can keep them together for a couple of years, and we'll see where it ends up."
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