Casino out as Macca bats on

By ADAM HICKS and TIM HOWARD CASINO bowed out of the SCG Country Cup in a rain-shortened match against Clarence River Cricket Association (CRCA) at Ellem Oval, Grafton, on the weekend.

Casino won the toss and elected to bat but showers forced them from the ground three times and shortened their innings to 46 overs.

Wes Koskela top scored with 27 as Casino notched up 9-173. The weather cleared after Casino opted for an early lunch, and the visitors struck early with the ball to have CRCA in trouble at 3-30.

However, a thunderous century by CRCA batsman Bob McKenzie blew Casino out of the competition as the home side reached the target without further loss.

Captain Mal Hancock said the rain disrupted his team's chances. "The rain certainly didn't help," he said.

"We didn't get any momentum going. To finish with 173 just wasn't quite enough runs.

"The big guy (McKenzie) hit 100 and didn't give any chances.

"It wasn't as though we had opportunities and missed them; we just couldn't create the chances."

McKenzie clouted six sixes and six fours in his 105-ball innings of 104 not out that took the game away from Casino. Pivotal innings

CRCA captain Matt Pigg said McKenzie's innings was the clincher in the game, but said just as much credit for the win should go to the team's bowlers and fielders, despite dropping Casino's Country representative batsman Sam Irvine twice in his innings of 25.

"Even though we dropped him once at four and then later, no one dropped their heads and we were able to pick up in the field," Pigg said.

"We just got back onto our plan of bowling line and length and eventually the catches started to stick."

Pigg said his young opening attack of Bryce Speechley and Rohan Hackett put pressure on Casino from the outset.

"I think that in their 15 overs they only bowled three bad balls," Pigg said.

That pressure allowed the slow bowling trio of Pigg (3/40), Matt Kroehnert (3/31) and Troy McLaren (1/35) to pick up wickets as Casino attempted to lift the pace.

Pigg also said Shaun Ulrick's innings was much more important than the 28 runs it totalled.

He and McKenzie piled on 116 runs to take CRCA to its victory target of 3/177 in reply to Casino's 173.

"Shaunie rotated the strike for Bob and helped keep the score moving," Pigg said.

CRCA will play in the quarter-finals of the competition in Tamworth on December 28, 29 and 30.

Hancock said the loss was a blow to Casino who were optimistic about progressing in the competition.

"It's very disappointing," he said. "We were fairly confident of not just getting through this game, but thought we were a big chance of upsetting a few of the bigger teams out there.

"It would have depended on the draw but we thought we may make it through to the final eight."

Scoreboard CRCA v CASINO (at Ellem Oval, Grafton) Casino won toss, elected to bat. CASINO innings: M McDowell, c Purser b Hackett520 S Shepherd, c McKenzie McLaren511 S Irvine, run out525 S Dietrich, b Pigg525 T Summers, b Kroehnert515 W Koskela, st Mitchell b Pigg527 W Sweeney, c and b Pigg519 A Nowland, b Kroehnert56 M Hancock, not out510 T Bennett, c Purser b Kroehnert54 Sundries511 TOTAL59 for 173 Bowling: R Hackett 1-29, B Speechley 0-14, T McLaren 1-35, A Firth 0-14, M Pigg 3-40, M Kroehnert 3-31 CRCA innings: M Pigg, run out511 B Purser, lbw Innes529 M Kroehnert, lbw Nowlan50 B McKenzie, not out5104 S Ulrick, not out528 Sundries55 TOTAL53 for 177 Bowling: W Sweeney 0-23, A Nowlan 1-31, M Mison 0-25, J Innes 1-18, S Shepherd 0-22, W Koskela 0-29, M Hancock 0-27. CRCA wins by 6 wickets.

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