WESTERN Suburbs and Stockton-Raymond Terrace believe their Newcastle district cricket final hopes are in their own hands despite missing golden opportunities to inflict upsets over Hamilton-Wickham and Merewether on Saturday.
Wests (183) dropped from fourth to fifth following their 19-run loss to Hamwicks (202) at Passmore Oval, while Stockton (92) stumbled after a fine bowling performance restricted Merewether to 126 at Townson Oval.
Cardiff-Boolaroo (7-209) pounced on the defeats and continued their remarkable transformation from wooden-spooners to possible semi-finalists by beating Charlestown (9-207) at Cardiff Oval.
CBs tailender Gautam Gandha hit the winning boundary with four balls remaining.
A partnership of 94 between captain Daniel Maher (59) and Bayley McGill (36) set up the CBs victory.
The win allowed the CBs to leapfrog Wests and Stockton into the top four.
It also sets up a big two-day match starting this Saturday between Wests and Cardiff at Harker Oval.
Hamwicks’ batting continued to create concern for the competition leaders on Saturday as tight Wests bowling and ill-disciplined shot selection left the home side 7-129 when opener Shane Hughes fell for 45.
But a timely cameo from Adam Price (41) gave his bowlers something to defend when they were dismissed for 202.
Anthony Hobson (2-16 off nine overs) was the best of the Rosellas bowlers.
Wests were cruising at 1-72 before opener Shaun Hassell was run out for 40, and from there the Rosellas steadily lost wickets due to Sam Webber (4-33) and Matt Trappel (4-37).
Wests skipper Ben Woolmer gave his side a chance until he was bowled by Trappel for 54.
“It was definitely a missed opportunity,” Woolmer said.
“We did some things right, but the little things we didn’t get quite right, so hopefully we take something out of it and move on.”
Despite dropping out of the top four for the first time in half a season, Woolmer was confident they would return for the play-offs.
“We play Cardiff twice in the next rounds, so if we do what we need to do we’ll be somewhere near it,” he said.
Rising 19-year-old wicketkeeper batsman Jeff Goninan stood in as captain for the injured Nick Foster (back) against Merewether and said his troops would take some hard lessons from the loss.
Only Sam Jenkinson (14) and Daniel Upward (37) reached double figures in Stockton’s doomed chase of Merewether’s below-par 126.
“You’re in the box seat when you bowl them out for 120, but they have a good bowling attack,” Goninan said.
“We’ll take a lot out of it with the way we bowled, but if you want to be playing semi-final cricket you want to be winning those games.”
Without new-ball partner Mark Cameron, Sam Gilmour led the SCG Country Cup champions’ attack with 5-21 off 10 overs.
Stockton’s finals hopes are still alive with a relatively easy run home against Charlestown, Toronto Workers and Waratah-Mayfield.
Newcastle City finally had something to celebrate with their first win of the season against Belmont at No.1 Sportsground with also secured them the inaugural beyondblue Cup.
Belmont were staring at a heavy defeat at 5-38 before Jake Short made 56 not out to carry the visitors to 145.
City’s Nick Fagan then made a steady 50 to steer the Sabres to 7-147 in the 47th over of the match.
University (9-262) were always in control at Ron Hill Oval as they defeated Toronto Workers (225).
Captain Josh Emerton (56) and Liam McKechnie (46) made runs for Uni, while Toronto skipper Joe Price (4-34 off 10 overs and 45) was strong in the defeat.
Wallsend (8-230) snapped a seven-match losing streak with a win over Waratah-Mayfield (185) at Wallsend Oval.
Daniel Clarke (65) and Cameron Roxby (23) set up the victory with a 94-run partnership.
Wallsend were struggling at 6-88 when Roxby joined Clarke at the crease.
Waratah’s Dean Marjoribanks made 55 not out in the unsuccessful chase.