Australian Country Championships: Bush Blues finish second with Newcastle all-rounder Pat Darwen the best performer

Bush Blues coach Jeff Cook believes Newcastle all-rounder Pat Darwen will be rewarded for his performances at the Australian Country Championships despite his team falling just short of the title.

NSW Country finished a narrow second, unable to reel in eventual winners Queensland on the tournament standings after both sides recorded last-round bonus-point victories in Wollongong on Wednesday. 

The Bush Blues (160) chased down East Asia Pacific (3-162) in the 37th over and Queensland (4-145) accounted for South Australia (9-144) in the 40th over.

BEST: NSW Country all-rounder Pat Darwen. Picture: @cricket_illaw

BEST: NSW Country all-rounder Pat Darwen. Picture: @cricket_illaw

Darwen made 40 not out and took 4-44.

The Merewether player featured in all 11 matches for NSW Country across the nine days of competition, scoring 377 runs at an average of 53.9 and claiming 18 wickets at 12 apiece.

“He has been fantastic for us,” Cook said. “I think he will go close to being named player of the tournament.”

A national merit team will also be announced.

In the women’s competition the Bush Breakers, featuring Hunter Pair Laura Avard and Synetta Manns, finished with bronze after defeating South Australia in Wednesday’s third-place play-off.

East Asia Pacific (2-100) made it back-to-back crowns by defeating Victoria (8-99) in the final at University No.1 Oval.