Semi-finals, and Easts lose again
By ADRIAN MILLER
IT had been seven semi-final losses in eight attempts for Eastern Districts, now it's eight from nine after the Casino Cavaliers eliminated the minor premiers in the race for the Far North Coast LJ Hooker (Ballina) League cricket premiership.
Heading into the match Easts captain Bruce Jobson said the monkey on his club's back didn't worry them, but now it's a gorilla it will be even tougher to shake off next season.
The Cavaliers took the match after a fine bowling display from Josh Innes (3-27), Mark Mison (2-14), Al Nowlan (2-34) and Wade Sweeney (2-38) was followed by some brilliant batting by Scott Shepherd (92), who was unlucky not to post three figures.
Easts were restricted to just 124 in their first innings, which Casino easily overhauled, eventually being bowled out for 240.
Easts were sent in on a pitch with a bit of life but they were well placed at 1-56 before a screamer of a catch by Shepherd ? who dived full length to his right in the covers ? dismissed young gun Simon Milenko (30).
Al Nowlan took another great catch shortly afterwards to dismiss Daniel Rowlands and the momentum ? Easts lost 5-28 ? was well and truly in Casino's favour.
Milenko, Martin Tucker (26) and Paul Simes (18) were the only batsmen to reach double figures.
The Cavaliers' run chase got off to a bad start when Jake McKinnon (5-50) and Milenko (1-11) came out firing, reducing them to 3-38.
But it could have been worse for the Cavs if Todd Summers (30) had not been dropped before he had scored.
He and Shepherd then combined for a 66-run partnership which all but sealed victory.
Casino captain Mal Hancock said his side had played well in all facets of play.
"I'm very happy with the overall performance," he said.
"We didn't expect to bowl them out so cheaply but our guys bowled well.
"Josh Innes turned the tide in our favour by picking up their three main batsmen and Shep, especially, batted excellently."
Easts captain Bruce Jobson said he side wasn't overly disappointed with the defeat or concerned about the club's finals record.
"We had a good year and enjoyed it right to the end, and we're already planning for next year," he said.
"A lot of clubs would love to have our record of making semi-finals.
"We probably have the biggest turnover of players every year in the Hooker League, so we'll keep surviving."
Completing a forgettable weekend, Easts' reserve grade team lost to Souths in their Lismore semi-final.