Win eludes last season?s top four
By PAUL ATTEWELL email@example.com
NONE of the four semi-finalists from last season emerg-ed with a win from the opening round of Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket.
Premiers Souths lost to Easts and beaten finalists Tintenbar-East Ballina were held to a frustrating draw by Ballina Bears.
The other semi-finalists, Lennox Head and Norths-Goonellabah RSL, never looked in the hunt in their games.
Souths resumed at 2-18 chasing Easts' 163 at Nielson Park, East Lismore, and under grey skies they never came to terms with the pace and bounce extracted from a juicy wicket by former NSW Country fast bowler Ian Gregory.
They were all out for 111, with Gregory taking 6-36 from 22 overs, including the wickets of five of the first seven in the Souths batting line-up.
Only Brad Lofts (39), dropped early, put up much resistance.
Easts missed the semi-finals last season for the first time since 1997-98, but with a new direction and the injection of enthusiasm from some of the region's best young talent, they should rectify that this time.
At Fripp Oval, Ballina, the 'Bar declared at their 4-208 from the previous week and were well on top against Ballina Bears, who were struggling at 9-140 when umpire Bob Myatt called an early end due to bad light.
Captain Duncan Elphick, who surprised when he swapped the wicketkeeping gloves for the ball last season, claimed 4-42 from 17 overs of spin.
Lee Barnett (32) and Ben Izzard (21) gave Bears a good start, but when they went wickets fell regularly.
It was an unlucky start for Tintenbar, which is still one of the teams to beat.
At Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, the Cavaliers (177) brushed aside Lennox Head (47 and 1-13).
Lennox Head resumed at a disastrous 3-1 on Saturday and, with only Todd Fisher (14) reaching double figures, they couldn't even crack the half century.
After Al Nowlan had snared the three wickets late on the first day, Mark Mison (3-24) and Wade Sweeney (3-5) completed the rout.
Bad light ended play early, 17 overs into the Lennox Head second innings.
Marist Brothers (4-116) cruised past Norths-Goon-ellabah RSL (92) at Nesbitt Park, South Lismore.
Luke Collings scored 39 and Craig Hamshaw 25 before both fell to Nathan Bonamy, who claimed 3-18 from 13 overs.
Bonamy, in fact, figured in all four dismissals, holding the catch that gave young left-arm seamer Michael German his maiden first-grade wicket.
In the other match, Alstonville (6-294 declared) ran through the Workers batting twice to open the season with an outright win and the early competition lead.
Terry Murphy took 5-17 in the first innings, with only tailender Daniel Kenyon (20) providing much resistance.
In the second innings, Workers were 7-29 before Jason Caught (39) and Luke Davis (27) put on 70 runs for the eighth wicket to delay the inevitable.
Josh Murphy ? no relation to his new-ball partner ? took five wickets for the afternoon.