Newcastle District Cricket Association: Five-time defending champions Merewether almost sneak into play-offs

SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES: Belmont v University at No.1 Sportsground and Hamilton-Wickham v Toronto at Passmore Oval from 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday.
SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES: Belmont v University at No.1 Sportsground and Hamilton-Wickham v Toronto at Passmore Oval from 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday.

THE dream may be over for Merewether, but it wasn’t by much.

The Lions, hunting a record-equalling sixth straight Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade major premiership, missed the semi-finals by a margin of just 0.06. 

A double-bonus point victory over Cardiff-Boolaroo on Saturday saw them finish equal on the competition ladder with fourth-placed University (65), who were washed out, but the students maintained a slightly superior quotient of 1.37 compared to Merewether’s 1.31.

The Lions, who scored 4-295 from their 50 overs, dismissed the hosts for 144 in 40.3 overs but would’ve had to skittle the last-placed team for next to nothing to sneak into the top four. 

Averages were also used to differentiate positions six to eight on the table after Wests (1.12), Waratah-Mayfield (1.02) and Charlestown (0.86) ended up level on 50.

* CHARLESTOWN will feature in the three lower grade semi-finals this weekend.

The Magpies meet Merewether in both seconds and thirds at Townson and Harker ovals respectively and then host Toronto in fourths at Charlestown Oval.

Stockton-Raymond Terrace are away to University in thirds at University 1 and then home to Hamilton-Wickham in fourths at Lynn Oval.

The remaining second grade fixture has Belmont traveling to clash with Toronto at Ron Hill Oval. 

* A third Nathan Price ton since Christmas wasn’t quite enough to get Sydney club Randwick-Petersham into the NSW Premier Cricket play-offs.

Batting at three Price made 128 off 108 balls, including six sixes, in a total of 7-318 while fellow Hunter products Jason Sangha (2-32) and Pat Magann (1-24) picked up three wickets between them as Eastern Suburbs were dismissed for 181.

Randwick-Petersham fell three competition points short of the top six, which includes another Hunter junior Cameron Eccles for Gordon.

Price, who skippered the Newcastle Blasters in this summer’s Regional Bash competition and featured as Wallsend’s marquee T20 player, has scored 952 runs at an average of 45.3 across all three formats in the state capital during 2016-2017.

* CENTRAL North have appointed former first class cricketer Jeff Cook, who was at Cardiff-Boolaroo last season, as the zone’s academy coach following the resignation of long-time servant Rod Bryant.

Newcastle are currently interviewing for the same position after Trent Colley opted to step down because of his commitments at Hunter Sports High School. 

* FORMER Stockton and University all-rounder and Newcastle and NSW Country representative Geoff Cooke will feature in the Maitland first grade grand final this weekend after making a comeback aged 47.   

Cooke will line up at Lorn Park for minor premiers Northern Suburbs against City United, led by one-time Stockton and Hamilton-Wickham player Matthew Trappel.