Six into four won?t go
By PAUL ATTEWELL
SIX teams will go into the final day of the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket minor rounds this afternoon with a chance of figuring in the semi-finals next weekend.
Southern Districts have already sealed the minor premiership and Tintenbar-East Ballina also look safe, but the other two positions could go to any of the other four teams still in contention.
Ballina Bears appear to have the toughest task.
They will need to chase down Souths' formidable 7-276 at Fripp Oval, Ballina, to remain in the picture.
Captain Andrew Gordon should be back from the Imparja Cup at Alice Springs, where he top-scored with 55 for New South Wales in the final against Queensland, which went on to win the title.
But Bears would still be at long odds to take first-innings points against an attack that includes Craig Bateman, Len Blok and the off-spin of former Sydney first-grade batsman Paul McLean.
The 'Bar will resume at 2-61 in reply to Alstonville's 138 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
The remaining 78 runs shouldn't present too many problems, especially with Alstonville having won only one match this season.
It will give top-order batsmen Phil Dalli and Kent Shay a chance to tune up for the semi-finals.
Norths-Goonellabah RSL (1-72) also look set for first-innings points against Eastern Districts (177) at Heaps Oval, Lismore.
But with rival semi-final contenders Lennox Head and Casino Cavaliers well placed to complete outright wins, that may not be enough for the Hawks.
Brad Walker (23) and Dan Henderson (37) will resume the run chase for Norths-Goonellabah RSL, with batting guns Adam Osborne and Nathan Bonamy still to come.
A big effort from NSW Country bowler Ian Gregory would appear to be Easts' only hope.
Lennox Head (4-149) will be favoured to collect maximum points against Workers (103) at Oakes Oval, Lismore, which would be enough for the club to qualify for the Hooker League semi-finals for the first time.
Whether they declare immediately or bat on for quick runs, Lennox Head could easily again run through the wobbly Workers batting line-up, which few would back to bat out the day.
Glen Watkins took five wickets for Lennox Head last Saturday and will have plenty of support from Mark Denmeade, Shaun Savage and Ben Legzdins.
The Cavaliers (2-90) also are in the box seat for outright points, although they have more work to do against Marist Brothers (138) at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.
Wade Sweeney and Mark Mison took eight wickets between them last Saturday.
They will be hoping the Cavaliers batsmen can score quickly to give them and the rest of the attack time to knock over Brothers again.
That shouldn't be a problem with only two out and NSW Country Colts representative Sam Irvine still to bat.
Points going into the final round: Southern Districts 55, Tintenbar-East Ballina 42, Ballina Bears 40, Norths-Goonellabah RSL 39, Casino Cavaliers 38, Lennox Head 35, Eastern Districts 29, Workers 24, Alstonville 17, Marist Brothers 16.
Points system: 12 outright win, 7 first-innings win, 1 first innings loss, 0 outright loss, 4 washed-out draw, 2 played-out draw.