Merewether v Wests at No.1 sports ground -Pat Darwen. picture by Ryan Osland.THREE wickets in five balls from medium-pacer Ben Neaves gave Wallsend a thrilling one-run win over Newcastle City and kept them within reach of the top four in Newcastle district cricket.
Chasing just 110 for victory, City recovered from 5-44 to be 7-108 with 17 overs remaining at Wallsend Oval on Saturday in round six.
Enter right-arm seamer Neaves, who bowled Frankie Walsh first ball then repeated the dose against Quinn Fowler two balls later before trapping Tom Anderson in front with the fifth ball of the over.
The triple wicket maiden gave Wallsend an unlikely win and Neaves figures of 3-7, his best with the club since joining last season.
Wallsend skipper Dan McGovern said the win was a pleasant surprise for his players, who thought they had tied the game. The six points kept them in fifth place, one point outside the top four.
“The over before went for 10 or 12 and there was a bit of confusion as well about the score,” McGovern said.
“We weren’t sure how many we had made and if we had tied or won by a run. But we were certainly very excited when we found out we’d won.
“It keeps us with a sniff of a top-four spot, especially with the top teams breaking away for some big wins the last couple of weeks. It was important for us just to keep us in touch.”
McGovern said quicks Cameron Roxby (3-14 off 10 overs) and Chris Raisbeck (2-25 off seven) had kept Wallsend in the game and Neaves’ heroics were just reward for the reliable performer.
“He’s that partnership breaker for us,” he said.
“He doesn’t swing it a lot so that’s why he bowls down the list a bit, but he’s very reliable at being able to bowl full and straight at the stumps.
“He doesn’t stray either side very often. This is his second year for us, and he’s settled in nicely, and that effort yesterday would have given him a lot of confidence.”
Ryan Van Kemenade was the destroyer for City with 5-21 as they rolled Wallsend in 35.5 overs.
Nick Tantos was their best in the chase with 41 not out.
Elsewhere, second-placed Merewether routed Wests for 69 and reached 3-71 in 11.3 overs to gain maximum points at No.1 Sportsground.
Roscoe Thattil made 55 and Chris Rendina 42 as Charlestown (7-221) defeated Belmont 8-205 at Cahill Oval.
Aaron Mahony scored 56 and Grant Stewart made 47 and took 2-38 as leaders University (9-241) beat Cardiff-Boolaroo (9-185) at Cardiff Oval.
Mark Dries was Hamilton-Wickham’s best with bat and ball, making 65 and taking 3-39, in a 225 to 139 win over Toronto at Passmore Oval.
At Lynn Oval, Sam Jenkinson made 78 as Stockton-Raymond Terrace (284) beat Waratah Mayfield (181).
● A century from Jeff Goninan helped Newcastle to a seven-wicket win over North Coast on Sunday, which capped an undefeated run for the defending champions at the NSW Country Championships in Ballina.
Goninan made 105 not out as Newcastle reached 3-195 chasing 191. Ray Cooper (4-31), Joe Price (3-47) and Josh Geary (3-28) were the wicket-takers for Newcastle.
Newcastle, who play next week’s southern pool winners in the NSW Country decider on December 7, clinched the northern division on Saturday with a double bonus-point win over Central Northern in which Goninan top-scored with 70 not out off 61 balls.
Chasing 126, Newcastle passed their target two wickets down in 19.3 overs.
Newcastle beat Central Coast by six wickets in their opening game on Friday.