Daniel Smith and Joe Denly proved the difference as Newcastle Steel were beaten by Sydney Cricket Club with two balls remaining in Sunday’s NSW Premier Twenty20 Cup season opener.
The former NSW wicketkeeper and one-time English international opened the batting together for Sydney at Drummoyne Oval and scored a combined 100 of the home team’s successful run chase. Smith (38) and Denly (62 not out) were pivotal in reaching the target with seven wickets in hand after Newcastle had set 180 for victory.
The recalled Mark Dries (48) and Newcastle skipper Mark Littlewood (30) helped steady the ship in the first innings with a third-wicket partnership of 69 after the early dismissals of Joe Price (1) and Josh Trappel (1).
But back-to-back departures had the Steel 4-81 before a counter-attack from Sam Webber, who smashed four sixes in his 40 runs off 20 balls, and Jeff Goninan (39 off 23) gave the visitors 5-179 from their 20 overs.
Ray Cooper was the pick of the quicks for Newcastle with 1-19 from his four overs while Webber (1-28) and off-spinner Nick Foster (1-36) were the other wicket takers.
In the next round the Steel host Gordon and North Sydney at No.1 Sportsground on November 27 before meeting St George at Hurstville Oval on December 4.
Meanwhile, Newcastle begins their NSW Country Championship defence against North Coastal in Narrabri on November 11 before rounding out the carnival with Central North and Central Coast respectively on the following two days.
NEWCASTLE 5-179 (Mark Dries 48, Sam Webber 40, Jeff Goninan 39*, Mark Littlewood 30) defeated by SYDNEY CC 3-180 (Ray Cooper 1-19, Sam Webber 1-28, Nick Foster 1-36)