Stampede to the 'Bar
WHEN searching for a word to describe Murwillumbah's performance against Tintenbar-East Ballina on Saturday, just look up 'bad' in the thesaurus. It offers words like cheap, crummy and cankerous but they just aren't strong enough. Murwillumbah were dismal. The defending Tweed premiers managed a measly 35 runs as the 'Bar's Duncan Elphick snared 4-12 off six overs at John Rabjones Oval, Murwillumbah. But at least the hosts started well, losing both openers without score, before putting on a 4-run third wicket partnership. Their fourth-wicket pair managed to add one more run before Thay Caisley stepped in to post a timid team-high knock of 12. Murwillumbah coasted to 4-17 before Elphick took the ball at first change and lobbed in a string of deadly leg-spinners. The part-time bowler narrowly missed a hat-trick with three wickets from four balls to have the home side reeling at 7-17. "I fluked a couple ... they actually landed on the pitch this week," chuckled Elphick. "Three of the four (wickets) were legitimate and the other was a half-tracker that he skied. That's how I get most of my wickets. "They had a defensive attitude in batting and didn't try to attack us very much. "I think they were just looking forward to Christmas." Murwillumbah added one more run for their eighth wicket before mounting meek resistance to post 17 runs from their final two wickets. Poor effort In the wash-up, the Murwillumbah players recorded four ducks, two 1s, three 2s, an 11 (scored by ninth drop) and a 12 to be all out for 35. "They were very poor," said the 'Bars' captain Brett Crawford. "We bowled well but they certainly didn't bat very well. "It was the same team that scored 280 against Souths. We didn't expect them to be that bad ... it's a shame it wasn't a two-day game." Crawford said Murwillumbah's lack of firepower made for the right conditions to bring on Elphick. "He hasn't had the opportunities (to bowl much this season)," Crawford said. "They weren't attacking so it was the perfect opportunity for him to bowl and he did well." But Elphick said the credit belonged to the young paceman Lucas Wagland who broke their spirit early. "It was his first game back in first grade ... they only scored one run off the bat against him," Elphick said. Wagland finished with 2-3 from eight overs. By the time Murwillumbah went to field, they'd given up the game. "Their heads were down, they were shattered," Crawford said. But that didn't stop them giving lip to batsman Ken Shay. "We only needed 35 and they were still talking," Crawford said. "They were sledging Ken, then he hit a six, then a four and they still wanted to sledge him." Murwillumbah's mouths got the biggest workout as Tintenbar chased down the runs in just five overs. The thrashing gave extra cause for celebration and the quick finish gave the 'Bar a licence to start their Christmas party early. "I don't feel real good now," said Elphick, who was yesterday driving to Newcastle. "I think I had too many drinks." Too many maybe. But probably not as many as the Murwillumbah players. A definitive weekend in the LJ Hooker League sees the top four teams shoot clear of the field. Brunswick-Byron missed their chance to move into finals contention and remain in fifth spot but slip seven points behind Tintenbar and Souths. Cudgen hold onto top spot and won't play the other in-form teams until round 12.