Lennox on verge of semis
By PAUL ATTEWELL
LENNOX HEAD has given itself a great chance of reaching the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket semi-finals for the first time by taking first-innings points against Workers on the first day of their two-day match at Oakes Oval, Lismore.
Workers were bundled out for only 103 and by stumps Lennox Head had reached 4-149 in reply.
An outright win would mean the only realistic way the seaside club could miss the semi-finals would be if Ballina Bears chased down Souths' massive 7-276 at Fripp Oval, Ballina, next Saturday.
A total washout of the second would still leave Lennox Head high and dry, but it may be the only escape route for Bears, whose batting is unlikely to match that of the defending premiers.
Not for the first time this season, Workers crumbled on Saturday, with only Matt Boyd (30) and Matt Legge (23) providing much resistance.
Glen Watkins, formerly with Brunswick-Byron, took 5-22 from 11 overs after Sean Savage and Mark Denmeade had each taken two wickets with the new ball.
Denmeade (38) and Paul Everingham (33) then set their team on course for first-innings points, with Lennox Head finishing the day at 4-149.
Lennox Head went closest to reaching the semi-finals in the inaugural Hooker League season of 1994-95, when they were led by young stars such as Brett Crawford and Jason Stewart, who switched to Tintenbar-East Ballina the following season.
Semi-final contenders Norths-Goonellabah RSL, Casino Cavaliers and Tintenbar-East Ballina all look set for first-innings points in their matches.
That would be enough for the 'Bar, but may not be enough for the other two clubs.
Norths-Goonellabah RSL are 1-72 in reply to Eastern Districts' 177 at Heaps Oval, Lismore.
Jake McKinnon (61) and Kai Patch (25 not out) helped Easts recover from 8-102 to set a competitive total.
Bruce Jobson (25) and Brett Ruttley (33) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.
Shaun Mead took 4-36 for the Hawks, while Aden Cowin claimed 2-29, picking up the key wickets of Jobson and Ruttley, both bowled.
Dan Henderson (37 not out) and Brad Walker (23 not out) will resume the run chase for Norths-Goonellabah RSL when play resumes on Saturday.
Marist Brothers could manage only 138 when sent in by the Cavaliers at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, and appear set to finish with their first wooden spoon in many years.
The fifth-placed Cavaliers are 2-90 in reply.
With sixth-placed Lennox Head a big chance of an outright win and fourth-placed Norths-Goonellabah RSL likely to take first-innings points, the Cavaliers will also probably need maximum points to book a place in the semi-finals.
Experienced all-rounder Craig Ferguson (53 not out) was the only Brothers batsman to tough it out after Wade Sweeney (4-14) and Mark Mison (4-27) had ripped through the top order.
Alstonville could also manage only 138 after winning the toss at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, and Tintenbar seem to have things well in hand, reaching 2-61 by stumps.
Darren Perkins (35) and James Redmayne (21) were the best of the Alstonville batsmen.
Tintenbar captain Duncan Elphick, a wicketkeeper since his junior years, took his first five-wicket haul bowling leg-spinners, finishing with 5-33 from nine overs.
New ball pair Mark Grant and Mark Newstead did the early damage with two wickets apiece.
Souths' batsmen piled on the runs at Fripp Oval against Ballina Bears, whose only realistic hope of reaching the semi-finals now appears to be rain this week ? and a lot of it.
Paul McLean (74), Brad Lofts (68) and Anthony Nind (56), the minor premiers' top three, dominated the day, at one stage having their team at 1-189.
With the two teams immediately below them on the points ladder well-placed, the third-placed Bears will need to chase down Souths' big total if they want to figure in the play-offs.