All-rounder Joe Price has continued his rich vein of form with a century and two wickets helping unbeaten Newcastle into this month’s NSW Country Championships final.
With his side in trouble in Sunday’s third and deciding group game, Price made 111 not out in Newcastle’s total of 7-223 before taking a crucial 2-28 in Western’s reply of 160 at Inverell.
The 63-run victory over the title holders means Newcastle now travel to Bowral’s Bradman Oval on November 26 searching for a third crown in five seasons.
Price, who batted at No.5, arrived at the crease with Newcastle 3-22 and they were 5-52 not long after but he soldiered on hitting 10 fours and three sixes in his 127-ball knock.
He then broke an innings-high 50-run second-wicket partnership with his medium pacers, bowling Mitch Bower (24) and trapping Darrel Williams (27) leg before in quick succession to make it 3-79.
“Obviously he’s in really good form at the moment and he was outstanding for us today,” Newcastle representative coach Shane Burley said.
Price shared vital half-century partnerships with newcomers Jed Dickson (36) and Dylan Hunter (21), who also claimed match-best figures of 4-22 from his 10 overs of left-arm orthodox spinners.
Western captain Jordan Moran (18) batted down the order after breaking his thumb while wicketkeeping in the same outing.
Newcastle and Western went into the encounter at Varley Oval without loss after defeating North Coast and Central North respectively on Saturday. Price made 68 from 69 balls.
Meanwhile in Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade results from a rain-affected Saturday and Charlestown have already secured first innings points and built a 43-run lead after dismissing Belmont for 63.
Magpies pair Bayley McGill (52 not out) and Daniel Arms (48 not out) remain in the middle with the hosts, who temporarily jump into first spot on the competition ladder, reaching 2-106 from 19 overs at Kahibah Oval.
Earlier in the opening two-day fixture Sri Lankan first-class all-rounder Saliya Saman (4-27) did most of the damage with Belmont lasting just 25.4 overs.
Elsewhere and Merewether opening bowler Harrison Colbert (4-7) claimed his third straight four-wicket haul with hosts Cardiff-Boolaroo 7-61 from 19.3 overs.
There was also limited play between Toronto (5-116 off 43 overs) and Wests, Stockton-Raymond Terrace (6-65 off 33 overs) and Waratah-Mayfield, defending champions Hamilton-Wickham (0-19 off 6.5 overs) and Wallsend as well as Newcastle City (1-41 off 11 overs) and University.
The round six encounters continue this Saturday.