2019/20 Games of the Season

This April we will be counting down the Bears' top eleven matches of the 2019/20 season. We've reached number 1 where we find a PGs semi-final win over a local rival to reach the club's first grand final since 2012/13....

1. Poidevin-Gray Shield, Preliminary Final - UTS North Sydney vs Gordon at Chatswood Oval

Gordon 8/160 (B Knox 2/19, F May 2/24, M Jenkins 2/39) def by UTS North Sydney 2/162 (JN James 52*, J Hardy 51*, J Leary 28)

PGs vs Gordon

The baby Bears turned up to Chatswood Oval full of energy and keen to get on the field, while it appeared that their opposition were hoping for more rain. The ground looked wet and the covers had accumulated plenty of water from overnight showers. This led to a delay in the start of proceedings. With the covers finally removed, the pitch looked hard and dry, but light rain threatened to derail our campaign and the covers were returned. Once the rain finally stopped (again), the umpires reduced the game to 44 overs per side and scheduled the start of play for 12:15. Gordon won the toss and elected to bat.

Chris Savage opened the bowling from the housing commission end with five dots before being hit for six from the final ball of his over by Jamie Bekis. Fletcher May was given the new ball from the city end. Bekis was also looking for a boundary from the final ball of May’s over, hitting the ball hard over the head of mid-wicket. Enter Ben Knox who leaped full stretch and plucked a one handed speculator out of the sky atto send Bekis on his way for 7 and Gordon were 1/9 off two. It was an outstanding catch and was luckily captured on camera and video for all to enjoy over and over again. It also set the tone for the rest of the lads in the field.

If the field wasn’t buzzing before, it was now, with every half chance for a run being cut off by committed fielding. Knox, Leerdam, James and even Reynolds threw themselves around, sliding and diving to cut off runs. It was the most switched on the PGs team had been all season in the field and it put significant pressure on the batting side. The first six overs went for 18 runs, and although overs 7 and 8 went for 14 runs, the newly appointed captain, Mac Jenkins, stuck strong with his opening quicks and kept them going unchanged. This led to the second wicket for Fletcher May (2/24) in the 12th over of the game, with a nice catch to new keeper James Leary and Gordon were 2/39.

The quicks had done their job and it was now time to turn the screws with our quality spin attack. Jack James bowled in tandem with Mac Jenkins (2/39). Five overs into their respective spells, James had 1/9, taking out the dangerous Barnsley (31) and Jenkins 1/14, knocking over another ex Randy Pete in Josh Claridge thanks to a sharp stumping from Leary. Gordon had slumped to 4/66 from 23 overs. James bowled out, finishing with two maidens 1/24 from his 9 overs, while Jenkins had 1/20 from 7 overs.

Ben Knox and Nuwan Whyte were then introduced into the attack. Knox kept it tight as usual and in his 3rd over claimed the wicket of Nathan Doyle (34), who had played the anchor role of the innings. Although Nuwan (1/18) was hit for a couple of fours, he had the last laugh, claiming a wicket in his fourth over. Knox (2/19) picked up a second wicket with the new batsman holing out to deep mid off and a safe catch by Jack James.

The batting innings started positively with a four in the first over to James Leary. The bowling by the opposition was accurate and kept the scoring to a minimum at times. However, there was no panic as iceman Jack James and his partner in crime James Leary blocked the good balls and punished the bad balls to move the total to 0/38 after 13 overs. After hitting the first six of the innings in the 11th over, in the 16th, Leary (28) took Ryan Meppem for a two and then a four before being stumped, having a crack at another boundary.  With the score on 1/47, James was joined by Daniel Leerdam, who had answered the SOS to come up to Sydney to help out with both George Lavelle and Broc Hardy absent for the preliminary final. Leerdam (15) took a few balls to get going, but, when he did, he launched two fours off opposition captain Nathan Doyle to pick up the run rate. James also contributed to the rate increase, launching a bomb onto the roof of the stand and effectively taking Meppem out of the attack, much to the delight of the vocal crowd of supporters. Leerdam was eventually caught on the fence in the 23rd over and the Bears were 2/76. Jake Hardy was next man in and he immediately got to work knocking the ball around for ones and twos. The pair upped the ante reaching an unbeaten fifty run partnership off 53 balls. James moved into the forties with a second six (that almost took out the Gordon scorer) and a four off Doyle, while Hardy hit fours off all bowlers. Jack’s 50 came up in the 31st over with a delicate dab through the vacant slips. The team 150 came up after 212 balls and with 10 overs left the Bears needed a further 16 runs. It took just 5 more legitimate balls (the bowler bowled 5 no balls and a wide) to win the game with 9 overs to spare with Jake (51*) reaching fifty off just 44 balls in the process thanks an unbeaten 86 run partnership achieved for the 3rd wicket.

1 PGs vs Gordon, PF

Jenkins returned to take his second wicket in the 41st over with the catch taken by Jordan Vilensky and at 8/133 it looked like the Bears would keep their opposition under 150. However, a misfield and two consecutive sixes promoted the Stags score to 8/160 at the close of their innings.

The camaraderie and dedication to the team was evident throughout with every player playing their role. The team were well supported by Kobe Allison and Dhruva Thorat – 12th and 13th man respectively. The effort in the field was legendary with every player hunting in or chasing hard to cut off runs. The victory was comprehensive. The bowlers bowled good balls and the batsmen executed. The club is extremely excited to see this fine group of young men progress to the final and where they take on a highly credentialed Fairfield-Liverpool side in the Grand Final at North Sydney Oval.

It would be remiss not to give a shout out to the strong contingent of UTS North Sydney supporters who showed up to cheer on the boys. The banter and encouragement of the team throughout the match was amazing and inspired the boys to work even harder for one another. We hope to see you all again next week to support the boys.

2. 1st Grade, Round 4 -  UTS North Sydney vs Sydney University at University No.1

UTS North Sydney 7/163 (dec) (R Aitken 44, B Bryant 35, O Knight 35*) and 2/148 (J Avendano 78*, B Bryant 44*) def Sydney University 111 (J Aitken 3/6,  J Campbell 3/26) and 196 (M Alexander 4/49 R Aitken 2/36 W Graham 2/36, J Campbell 2/55) 

Day 1

The UTS North Sydney Bears had a picnic under warm sunny skies at University Oval to eventually claim first innings points against a strong Sydney University line-up which had arrived buoyant after chasing down 462 last week. 

In the absence of Justin Avendano with an injury picked up while scoring 78* for the Sixers Academy during the week, skipper Tom Jagot lost the toss, and was asked to field. The Bears bowlers enjoyed the gusty conditions on a pitch that was offering plenty of sideways movement. James Campbell and Will Graham kept it tight with the Students’ first run coming in the fourth over and after several lbw appeals were turned down. Campbell made the initial breakthrough in the ninth over with a great diving catch to keeper George Lavelle. Graham backed his partner up a few overs later, splattering the stumps of the number three and it was 2/14 in the twelfth over. Olly Knight was introduced into the attack in the 15th over and had immediate success, removing the in-form Hayden Kerr plumb lbw for four. With Matt Alexander (1/27) bowling from the other end, Campbell returned for his second spell taking two more wickets (including uprooting the middle stump of dogged opener Rory McElduff - pictured, who top-scored with 33) to finish with 3/26 and the students wobbling at 6/73. A thirty-run partnership developed between Liam Robertson and Dugald Holloway before Robbie (1/9) and James Aitken cleaned up the tail. It was James’s 250th First Grade game for the Bears and he celebrated in style taking 3/6 from 6.3 overs. Sydney University all out 111 in the 51st over.

UTS North Sydney had to negotiate a tricky period before tea and lost Jack James and Tom Jagot to be 2/26 at the break. Last week’s centurion, Ben Bryant, made a valuable 35, steering the Bears to 3/54 before being caught by the keeper. Robbie Aitken played aggressively for his 44, hitting a boundary to go to 21 and in doing so became just the third player in Sydney First Grade history to both take 500 wickets and score 11,000 runs, a remarkable achievement marked with cheers from his team-mates and the UTS North Sydney supporters.

Knight played as he always does, hitting 35 off 19 balls with three sixes and three fours. The Bears passed the Students’ total when five down to gain the first innings points, and with the fall of the seventh wicket, at 163, Jagot made a sporting declaration hoping for a breakthrough before the close of play. Three overs were bowled at the Uni openers who will resume next week 0/6 with the Bears knowing that a repeat of this week’s performance could bring them their second outright victory of the season.

Day 2

UTS North Sydney gained maximum points in a clinical display against Sydney University on their opponents’ home ground. 

2 1s vs Sydney Uni, Round 4

After starting the day at no wicket for 6, opening bowlers Will Graham (2/36) and James Campbell (2/55) wasted no time ripping through Sydney University’s top order taking the first four wickets between them to have the Students 4/37 after 14 overs. The first two were caught by young keeper George Lavelle, followed by an LBW, and then an absolute screamer taken at mid on by Matt Alexander who leapt off the ground and plucked the ball out of the air with his left hand before it had an opportunity to go to the boundary. Lavelle then grabbed his third caught behind of the day off Alexander to have Uni 5/67. An 80 run partnership developed between B Trevor-Jones and T Cummins before Trevor-Jones skied the ball off Alexander well over mid wicket and was brilliantly caught by Jack James (pictured), chasing after the ball and taking it with a full length dive. With the tail exposed, Alexander struck again claiming his 3rd wicket of the day to have the Students 7/162 and a lead of 110. Cummins went past 50 but soon ran out of partners as Robbie Aitken (2/41) and Alexander (4/49) finished off the lower order with Lavelle affecting a sharp stumping and achieving four dismissals for the day.

The Bears were set 145 runs from a minimum 45 overs to secure their second outright victory of the season. Campbell was promoted to open and lasted two balls and James looked good before copping a good ball from C Cassell. However, Ben Bryant (44*) was determined to see the chase through slowly chipping away at the total, with partner Justin Avendano.  Avendano finished unbeaten on 78 with 10 fours and 2 straight sixes, the second 6 to win the game. The pair put on 131 runs. The win elevates the Bears to 3rd on the NSW Premier Cricket table and as a side note it has been six seasons since Sydney University has been outrighted and ten years since North Sydney has achieved one outright let alone two in a season.

The boys were joined in the change rooms by a jubilant fifth grade team to sing the team song with gusto after fifth grade had used 77 overs to successfully chase 203 for victory at St Paul Oval. 

Video courtesy of Rod Campbell, edited by Sarah Berman

3. Brewer Shield, Round 10 -  UTS North Sydney vs St George-Sutherland at Olds Park

UTS North Sydney 9/152 (L Warren 48, A Gibbons 28) def St George-Sutherland 138 (B Tahana 3/16, L Warren 2/22, G O'Brien 2/33)

Brewer vs St George

Report courtesy of captain, Genevieve O'Brien

This week our Brewer Shield girls took on second-placed St George-Sutherland at Olds Park, with a few key players missing due to representative duties and injury. 

The Bears won the toss and went into bat. It was a shaky start with both openers out early and the score at 2/10, but the middle order steadied the ship with outstanding performances from Lucy Warren (48), Amy Gibbons (26) and Belinda Tahana (16).  With Tahlia Kapo (8*) and Anjali Uthappa (7*) showing the value of lower order runs, the Bear’s finished their 40 overs at 9/152, their highest-ever total.

With runs on the board, the Bears took to the field looking for early wickets, and Tahana delivered in her first over, trapping the St George opening batter in front. To the credit of the St George batters, they stuck out the first session and kept the Bears searching for the breakthrough. It came in the 15th over with captain Genevieve O’Brien bowling the left-handed number three through the gate. St George were now 2/73. Next into the attack came recent country recruit Grace Boulding, her second ball drawing the number four into a false shot, popping up a catch to Tahana at square leg, St George 3/92.

Even with the runs gettable for the hosts, the Bear’s kept the pressure on with good spells from Grace Keating, Liz Buckley, and Chloe Day. It wasn’t until the final ball of O’Brien’s last over that North Sydney struck again, thanks to a tidy stumping from Mridula “Wreck-It” Thirupathy

3 Brewer vs St George, Round 10

Back into the attack came opening bowler Tahana, and along with it, a direct hit run out from O’Brien at cover, sending St George’s skipper and opener on her way for 44. Next ball, saw more cause for celebration with Tahana striking with an LBW.

The equation was now St George needing 38 runs, the Bears needing 3 wickets.

To the credit of the North Sydney girls, they never lost focus, energy or fight in the field. After a flurry of runs from the St George lower order, it was back to Tahana to get the breakthrough, skittling the stumps with an absolute peach. Needing just two wickets, the ball was tossed back to opening bowler (and star batter) Lucy Warren, to finish the job. Doing just this, Warren struck in the second over of her spell, bowing the number seven from St George with a classic top-of-off delivery. Victory was in sight for the Bears, when just two balls later, Warren drew the number nine into a false shot, popping a catch to the ever-so-safe hands of Tahana at square leg.  St George all out for 138!

The UTS North Sydney Brewer Shield side had secured their maiden victory.  This win is so well deserved for the girls, who have worked extremely hard over the past two seasons. They have shown great teamwork and spirit and owe a lot to the tireless dedication of their coach Michelle Goszko and wonderful support from Todd Harper, Rob Lavery and the Norths players.

4. 5th Grade, Round 10 - UTS North Sydney vs Manly-Warringah at Mike Pawley Oval

UTS North Sydney 85 (L Hodge 39*) def Manly-Warringah 84 (A Rana 3/9, P Lindsay 3/18, B Revai 2/17)

5s vs Manly

A sodden Mike Pawley Oval greeted the 5s boys when they arrived for Round 10 vs Manly. Both teams were keen to play with North Sydney seeing an opportunity to extend our lead at the top of the table and Manly, the opportunity to jump some sides into a finals position. 

The rain eased after midday and play commenced, albeit in the rain, with the Bears batting (toss lost) with 34 overs to face. The Bears batted like they thought the game would be called off due to some heavy rain on the radar (it never came) and slumped to 5/24. UTS North Sydney Life member and former 1st grade skipper Matt White, now suited up for Manly, doing the damage.  Thanks to Liam Hodge (39) we scratched our way to 85 but were well and truly on the back foot.

4 5s vs Manly, Round 10

However, this team has made winning a habit and refused to submit. Abbott dismissed one opener, well caught by Stokes and when skipper Lindsay got two quick ones it was 3/14 and game on. The Manly skipper batted positively and threatened to take the game away from us, but with the score on 41 he swished at one from Revai and the door was ajar. 

Enter young Aki Rana who’s 7 overs 3/9 turned the game further on its head and reduced Manly to 7/60. Two quick wickets to Lindsay (3/18 off 7) and Wright (1/9 off 4) had Manly reeling at 9/71, still 14 in arrears. However, Manly showed great grit and clawed their way to 9/80 with 2 overs remaining and then hit a 4 off the first ball of the 33rd over. Two needed off 11 balls and Manly were now favored to win.  However Ben Revai (2/17 off 5.2) held his nerve snicking off the #9 to win the game by a run. 

Another tight win was celebrated with a raucous rendition of the club song, these 5th Grade Doyens are 8 points clear atop the ladder

5. 2nd Grade, Round 5 - UTS North Sydney vs Sydney at Birchgrove Oval

UTS North Sydney 8/167 (RD Alexander 56*, C New 35) def Sydney 162 (J Aitken 3/17, N Naguleswaran 2/37, S Alexander 2/42)

2s vs Sydney

The picturesque setting of Birchgrove Oval, was the location for the Round five One Day match between North Sydney and Sydney.  Norths won the toss and sent Sydney in on a wicket they hoped would hold together for the duration of the game. At first glace, the outfield looked barren, rough and lightning fast.

Norths’ bowling was consistent and tight at the start of the game with James Aitken removing one opener without offering a shot, leaving Sydney 1/6 off 4. A partnership formed and Sydney consolidated before Niranjan spun one through to hit the stumps, Sydney 2/87. The spinners continued to choke the middle order. Sam proved more deadly over the wicket, his cousin Ray making the simplest of catches look hard. Both spinners Sam Alexander (2/42) and Niranjan Naguleswaran (2/37) troubled all batsmen. This bowling pressure, combined with a brilliant piece of fielding and direct hit from Broc Hardy had Sydney 6/146. Our seam bowlers closed out the match decimating their tail order. Sydney were all out for 162 in the 44th. 

What should have been an easy target for our strong batting line up proved tricky. This is often the case with small totals.  After losing an early wicket, there was some consolidation between Cameron New (35) and Broc Hardy (19). The Bears worked their way to 1/59 on a pitch that was deteriorating faster than expected and offering a lot of inconsistency. We then lost 4 for 5 and a further 2 wickets shortly after to collapse to 7/77.  

5 2s vs Sydney Round 5

With only three wickets in hand and 86 runs to win, the game was in the opposition’s favour and a win was looking quite doubtful. Enter, Ray Alexander, who combined with Niranjan Naguleswaran to form a crucial 43 run partnership in extremely difficult conditions. Under extreme pressure from the opposition, and keeping in mind the wicket and game situation, both players showed great maturity and control as they steered the team closer and closer to victory.  When Naguleswaran was dismissed for 19, there were still 40 runs left to score. Luckily Second Grade have a long middle order. Ali Shaikh, who scored his first second grade 50 in round three, joined Alexander at the crease. 

With the run rate required at 6 an over, it would require something special. Both men were up for the task executing control and grace under pressure as they struck the ball into gaps and pressured the fielding side with excellent running between the wickets. Over by over they got ahead of the rate and the victory looked more and likely. Needing 23 off 24 balls, then down to 12 off 18. The last 8 runs were pressure-filled moments that were touch and go. In the end Alexander secured an amazing win with a 6 down the ground!! A match winning 56no off 54 balls, ably supported by Shaikh who was unbeaten on 13. 

Second grade had done it. It was a great victory and Ray Alexander was cheered from the field for one of the great second grade innings (pictured). Winning is a good habit. At this stage second grade are yet to lose a match. It is hope that the lessons from this game are taken into their next match as they look to improve their record.

6. 3rd Grade, Round 3 -  UTS North Sydney vs Mosman at Rawson Oval

UTS North Sydney 5dec/301 (C Lloyd 147, J Graham 56*, R Alexander 38 ) def Mosman 254 (JD Graham 4/76, A Amir 3/58, B Knox 2/26)

3s vs Mosman

Day 1

With North Sydney captains winning tosses for fun, it was fitting that 3rd grade captain Chris Lloyd also won the toss and chose to bat. 

A shaky start 1/0 and both openers gone for 29 was not in the plan. At 3/42 the game was on a knifes edge. However, in what is becoming a regular thing in 3rd grade Ray Alexander (38) was joined by Chris Lloyd (pictured) to get the innings back on track. A brief stint by Ahmer Amir, brought round 2 captain, Jacob Graham (56*) to the cease. From here on there was no stopping the two captains as they piled on 184 unbeaten runs for the 6th wicket, elevating the score to 5/301 after 80 overs and placing UTS North Sydney in a strong position to start Day 2. Lloyd produced his highest ever Grade score of 147*, which is the highest score by a North Sydney 3rd grader since at least 2010. The 184 runs is also the best 6th wicket stand of the season in 3rd grade.

Day 2

6 3s vs Mosman Round 3

The second day of third grade’s fixture began with the Bears declaring on their overnight score. Mosman started well, putting on 60 for the 1st wicket before Graham struck. From there a steady stream of pressure bowling brought about wickets and poor shots, on what was a very flat pitch. Ahmer Amir claimed 3 top order scalps in his debut for the Bears while Jacob Graham (4/76) and Ben Knox (2/26) reduced Mosman to 9/179. 

However the Mosman number 11, Habib, took the long handle to all comers in the next 13 overs and took the score along to 9/254, needing only 48 more with 8 overs to spare. Skipper Chris Lloyd brought himself on and forced him to sky one where a confident Jacob Graham took an excellent outfield catch to end the game. 

7. Poidevin-Gray Shield - UTS North Sydney v Manly at Manly Oval

Manly 239 (B Knox 2/35, M Jenkins 2/55 B. Hardy 3 catches) def by UTS North Sydney 6/240 (J Hardy 55, J Leary 52*, M Jenkins 26 JN James 25, G Lavelle 25) 

PGs vs Manly

The young Bears took the spectators on a rollercoaster ride at Manly oval, coming away with a fantastic win with 9 balls to spare. It was a true team effort with all players making strong contributions with bat, ball and in the field.

Captain George Lavelle called incorrectly at the toss, giving Manly first use of a very flat and fast Manly Oval. The Tahs got away to a flyer and were 0/50 after 6 overs. Someone forgot to tell the batsman it was not a T20 this week. After some front foot troubles debutant Kobe Allison (1/35) got one just right with a sharp catch to Lavelle and it was 1/56 after 7. Enter NSW rookie contracted player Ollie Davies (45) who started with a single and 6 dots before taking full toll of our bowling hitting 44 off the next 13 balls taking Manly to 1/104 off 11. Jack James (1/32) took the next over and on the fifth ball was starring back at Davies, who had caused him some grief at last years U19 Championships. Payback, James tempted Davies to hit over mid-off – straight into the chest of Mac Jenkins, who was knocked backward by the impact, but the star player was gone. James combined with Ben Knox (2/35) and the two spinners started to slow the rate. As the pressure built, the Manly bats decided to take on the Bears fielders to their peril. A sharp single in Knox’s over was swooped on by Jenkins, who fired the ball in to the lightening hands of Lavelle, to do the rest – 3/126 off 17.  In the first ball of James’s next over, the ball was cut towards the boundary – the batsman attempted to run two, but a powerful throw from Allison into Lavelle gloves saw the batsman short of his ground – 4/127. Manly bats Lea and Vumbaca set about rebuilding with dots and ones putting together a 60 run partnership, until opening bowler, Nuwan Whyte (1/49), was re-introduced into the attack. He claimed Lea, caught by Broc Hardy, the first of three catches by Hardy. Knox bowled the no 7 in the 41st over before Broc Hardy (1/15) grabbed a wicket with a sharp catch off his own bowling and at 7/212 Norths had the ascendency. Jenkins came back to bowl at the death, claiming a wicket with the first ball of his new spell. Hardy took his third catch after the ball was smashed back at the bowler, Knox, and rebounded straight to him – 9/238. Jenkins (2/55) finished the job in the 49th over with a catch to Knox to dismiss Manly for 239. An amazing recovery after 300+ looked on the cards.

7 PGs vs Manly Round 2

The batting innings was no less exciting with James (25) making a strong contribution at the top of the order and at 1/45 after 10 we looked well on track.  Two quick wickets saw the Bears slump to 3/53 off 14. Lavelle then combined with Jake Hardy to put on a valuable 50 run partnership taking us to 4/104 in the 28th. Jake started strongly with 3 fours before knocking the ball around with new partner James Leary. The pair turned up the heat on the opposition turning over the strike regularly and crunching 11 fours to score 70 of 60 odd balls. Jake was eventually dismissed for a well-made 55. The equation was 70 runs from 12 overs. The new batsman Jenkins (26) combined beautifully with Leary to put on 43 off 48. Leary played several scoop shots over the keeper to keep the scoreboard ticking. When Jenkins was out, the Bears needed 26 from 28. Leary kept the singles coming picking up an unbeaten 52 in the process and new batsman, Allison did the rest smashing a four and a straight six to finish with 19 not out off 10. There was some confusion in the scorebox, but the last two runs sealed it and a memorable victory was achieved. Special mention to Adam Cavenor (0/15 off 4) who bowled for the first time in a PG’s game and fielded well as well as Tim Reynolds who toiled hard all day in the field. Well done to Broc Hardy and George Lavelle who both made the best fielding performances of the week.

Images courtesy of Ethan Joseph

8. 5th Grade, Round 11 - UTS North Sydney vs St George at Tunks International Sports Park

UTS North Sydney 160 (B Revai 32, A Nigul 25) tied St George 9/160 (B Revai 3/33)

5s vs St George

5s hosted 3rd place St George at Tunks, keen to extend our lead in the 5th Grade standings.

Inclement weather on Friday had the deck looking a little green, however, after a Bernie haircut, the Bears were happy to bat first after being inserted by the Saints.

We got off to a strong start with Adi Nigul (25) and Luke Smith (23) advancing the score to 57 before they fell in quick succession to the St George change bowlers. Those same bowlers then ripped the heart out of the Bears middle order with Norths slumping to 6-88, unable to cope with the movement being extracted out of the pitch.  Ben Revai showed great resolve, batting intelligently to score 32* and advance our final score to 160.

With the deck flattening out, 160 was probably 20-30 short of par, so the Bears would have to bowl well.  A decent start had the Saints 1-21, however a partnership formed for the 2nd wicket, and the Bears had to hang in the contest, building pressure and limiting the 4 balls. Eventually, the pressure told as Aki Rana induced a loose shot from the Saints opener, then Cooper Goddard struck with two brilliant run outs and then Liam Hodge with a sharp stumping off Revai.

Even though the Saints were always ahead of the game needing less than 6 an over with wickets in hand, the Bears never gave up and somehow 7 runs were needed off the last over with 4 wickets in hand.  

8 5s v St George Round 11

The first ball was struck for two, reducing the equation to 5 off 5.  The next ball there was a run out by Abbott and Revai with the Saints attempting a 2nd - 4 off 4 with 3 wickets in hand. The 3rd ball of the over was swung high to deep midwicket. Abzy Shaikh stood calmly under it and pouched the catch - 4 off 3 with 2 wickets in hand. The 4th ball of the over ball was also hit in the air - straight to Will Abbott! A team hat-trick, Revai (3/33 off 10) on a hat-trick and 4 off 2 with the number 11 striding out.  

Perhaps the Bears were in front? For the first time in the day since the opening stand of our innings? Could we pull off another Houdini escape? The second to last ball was hit for 2 meaning 1 to tie and 2 to win. 

The last ball was hit firmly down the ground. But straight to mid-off. A run was completed. But only one. A tie at Tunks International Sports Park! 

After some supervision of the books, the result was confirmed. The Bears live to fight another day, however know full well we will need to be more focused to taste glory later in the season. 

9. 4th Grade, Round 11 -  UTS North Sydney vs St George at Harold Fraser Oval

UTS North Sydney 5/201 (I Merlehan 88*, F Nixon-Tomko 50, J Holmes 29) def St George 200 (I Merlehan 3/19, FJ Noack 3/40, S Vohra 2/50)

4s vs St George

The 4th Grade Bears travelled down to Kogarah to meet the 6th placed St George outfit. Harold Fraser Oval, complete with new pavilion, carpeted change rooms, a lift to the viewing pavilion, belter of a wicket and a test standard outfield excited the young team keen to record a victory and contribute to the club championship points.

Upon winning the toss, veteran St George Skipper Stephen Wark had no hesitation in electing to bat, and after a slow start the St George openers amassed 34 for the opening wicket. The conditions did not offer much for the Bears opening attack of Robson and Savage, as both bowled tightly without luck. With the shine off the ball, Izaak Merlehan was thrown the ball to send down some of his offies and, as he commonly does, he claimed a wicket in his first over. In tandem with Fraser Noack (3-40) Izaak (3-19) put the brakes on the St George innings, minimising run scoring opportunities and creating opportunities. St George faltered to 6-71 around the 27th over mark.

Through the first 30 overs, the Bears bowlers maintained for the most part their line and length and they were supported in the field. However,  following a drinks break and some changes in the bowling and most likely a general thought that the game was ours, the attack offered up some boundary deliveries and the standard of ground fielding and throwing was very poor. Conceding some 130 runs in the final 20 overs was demoralising and should be a wake up to some that this game requires concentration, determination and pride in the collective fielding effort.

9 4s v St George Round 11

Requiring 201 to win on a fast outfield with a flat batting track would require application and at 2-31 the Bears began to falter. However, a resolute effort from opener Finn Nixon-Tomko (50) and Jake Holmes (29) took the score through to 3-76 when Jake was adjudged caught behind . To the crease strode Izaak Merlehan, who launched a blistering shot over deep mid-wicket to the get off the mark and signal his intention to assert himself with bat in hand. Izaak (88 not out off 67 balls) was brilliant to watch as he sent the spinners to all ends of the ground. This match was won on the back of Izaak’s assault and Finn’s occupation of the crease… 6 points recorded… all that was required was a solid effort with the Bears song… led by Tim Robson… the Bears ensured the Saints knew who won.

There is great potential in this playing group… just a little more application, self-reflection and a desire to simulate match situations at training are the difference between 16th on the ladder and the top 4.

10. 1st Grade, Round 8 - UTS North Sydney vs Fairfield-Liverpool at Rosedale Oval

UTS North Sydney 325 (T Jagot 156, T Reynolds 41, O Knight 38) def Fairfield-Liverpool 285 (J Campbell 3/47, W Graham 2/55, M Alexander 2/65)

1s vs Fairfield

Day 1

Skipper Tom Jagot had a day to remember, bringing up his first ton for the season to guide the Bears to a competitive total by the end of the first day against Fairfield Liverpool. Further research has indicated that Jagot also brought up his 3,000th career first grade run on the weekend. Well done, Tom, and as the boys suggested on Saturday after bringing up the 150 – ‘double it’.

The day started early with UTS North Sydney travelling to south western Sydney – some by plane as suggested by one spectator, who shall remain nameless, to Rosedale Oval. After winning the toss the captain chose to bat in the dry heat, taking advantage of the absence of State player Liam Hatcher. Jack James got things moving with 9 runs off the first over. In the second over his partner, Ben Bryant copped a rising ball that presented the keeper with a simple catch and the Bears were 1/9. This brought Tom Jagot (captaining while Justin Avendano is on BBL duty) to the crease. James looked in good touch, after securing his first century last week, but on 16 got a good ball that nipped back in and it was 2/32. 

George Lavelle (13) then combined with Jagot for a 58 run partnership, with Jagot bringing up his fifty off fifty balls. Lavelle nudged a few around and hit a nice lofted four before nudging one straight to first slip. Jagot, on the other hand, kept pumping boundaries. Tim Reynolds was the next man in, returning to the team after being part of a successful U19s campaign for NSW Metro. His opportunities were limited in the U19 tournament and he was keen to show his worth on a pretty flat deck. Reynolds scored 41 in an 87-run stand, showing plenty of patience. In between pep talks at the drinks break, Tim was able to watch from the other end as Jagot brought   up his sixth first grade hundred for North Sydney, off 138 balls.

Robbie Aitken (13) landed a few lusty blows and was unlucky to be caught on the third grab by the fielder at backward square with the score on 198, a few overs prior to the lunch break. After the break, Jagot combined with Olly Knight (who made a watchful 38) for a steady 81 run partnership, and in the process he went past 150. Tom was finally dismissed for 156 from 208 balls, his highest first grade score (see video inset). It was great entertainment and certainly a ‘captain’s knock’ with 15 fours and over 300 minutes in the middle. He received a standing ovation as he left the ground. With the score at 7/282, the tail added some valuable runs with Matt Alexander (16) and Mac Jenkins (17) making a strong contribution. With just one over remaining in the day, Will Graham smashed the finest of nicks past the keeper for 4, before being unfortunately fired by the umpire, leaving James Campbell stranded on 6 not out at the other end.  The Bears reached a total of 325, which was adjudged as par by the local scoreboard attendant .Week two's equation was simple – bowl Fairfield Liverpool out for less than 325.

Day 2

The UTS North Sydney First Grade boys showed amazing ticker completing a miraculous win as the elements conspired against them. The Bears were in a Lion’s den of pain as they entered the field for a 9am start with temperatures already nearing 30 degrees and a light smoke haze filling the lungs of every player.

The lads made a terrific start thanks to the ever-reliable James Campbell (3/47) grabbing a wicket in the third over to have Fairfield 1/5. Campbell has made a habit of taking a wicket in his first spell in most games this year and sits third in the bowling aggregate for NSW Premier Cricket at the half way point with 21 scalps. The quick bowlers toiled hard in short spells on a pitch that resembled the Hume Highway and kept the boundaries to a minimum, forcing the batsman to run twos and threes. This sapped energy from the batsmen and prolonged the chase for the opposition. 

It took 25 overs and 76 runs for the next wicket to fall as the set batsman Matt Critchley tried to launch Robbie Aitken (1/31) over mid on, but found the safe hands of Mac Jenkins instead. This brought former NSW 2nd XI batsman Luke Ohrynowsky to the crease as the Lions moved to 2/81. Ohrynowsky combined with his captain, and current NSW second XI player, Param Uppal (59), to put on a further 52 runs before Olly Knight (1/28) claimed Uppal’s wicket with George Lavelle standing up to the stumps. It was a brilliant catch that required the quick hands that George is becoming renowned for in the Premier Cricket competition. Fairfield put together another 50 run stand for the fourth wicket with Will Graham making the breakthrough thanks to another great catch by Lavelle diving forward and snaring the ball millimetres from the ground. It is a testament to the determination of the team that they remained chirpy and continued to chase balls, cutting off boundaries and charging in to prevent singles to support their bowlers in the midst of a heatwave. 

Play continued to 4/205 as the players took lunch at 2pm. A few overs after the lunch break, with Fairfield building on their total, play was interrupted for an air quality break. With the air quality deemed hazardous by the umps, the players waited over three hours until 5:30pm for play to resume. Upon the resumption, Fairfield needed just 98 runs from a further 31 overs and were very keen to get back onto the ground as they knew they had the upper hand. However, the long break was more of a benefit to the tired Bears outfit and gave the boys an opportunity to recharge in the change rooms.

10 1s v Fairfield Round 8

The Lions crept to within 80 runs of the Bears’ first innings score when Campbell took the key wicket of Ohrynowsky on 75, opening the door for an unlikely victory. It turned out to be the catalyst for an amazing win as wickets fell regularly in the hot and smoky conditions. Current leading NSW Premier Cricket wicket taker, Matt Alexander (2/65), chimed in a few overs later to remove the fresh man and reduce Fairfield to 6/246, again caught by Lavelle. With the new ball looming and after a tidy first spell, Jack James (1/10) was thrown the ball for his second spell. James did not disappoint claiming the set lefthander Atharva Patil thanks to a catch on the second grab by George Lavelle. Lavelle’s catch was his fifth of the innings and at 7/158 the odds were turning heavily in the Bears’ favour.

The introduction of the new ball allowed the Bears bowlers to rip through the Lions’ tail with wickets to Graham, Campbell and Alexander who finished the job in fading light. The ninth wicket was one to savour as Lavelle ran back hurdling the helmet to take a fine diving catch, and he followed up with another five overs later to finish the match and complete seven catches. The seven-wicket haul by Lavelle was the most by any NSW Premier Cricket keeper this season and only the tenth time in First Grade history that the feat has been completed. George has also entered the record books for the number of dismissals by a North Sydney wicketkeeper in an innings, equalling the record set by Nigel Taylor in the 1996-97 season. 

A special mention must be made of Simon Jagot and David Graham who worked tirelessly to keep the boys hydrated in the truly sapping conditions.

The 40 run win elevated UTS North Sydney to second on the NSW Premier Cricket table as they headed into the Christmas break. 

11. 2nd Grade, Round 9 - UTS North Sydney vs Penrith at Howell Oval

UTS North Sydney 8/173 (N Naguleswaran 50, AA Shaikh 43*) def Penrith 108 (J Aitken 4/16, N Naguleswaran 2/7, S Alexander 2/7, F May 2/40) 

2s R11 socrecard

After a pleasant drive out to Howell Oval, the Second Grade Seagulls arrived full of momentum after the Christmas break. 

A classic game of 5 on 4 ensued, and Sam ‘Shaun Johnson’ Alexander was again the star, with 3 try assists and a four-pointer for himself. Thanking Cam New’s lack of mobility. 

The deck was green and skipper Glenn was keen to bowl. Enter Alexander and Papworth. The seasoned veterans - part of an unofficial ‘leadership group’ - got in the skipper’s ear and let him know the wicket will surely crumble in the afternoon. 

Glenn proceeded to win the toss (his 85th win in a row) and elected to bat. 

At 4/30 we were both looking extremely sheepish. Thank god for Niranjan (50) and Ali (43 not out). These two weapons came together in an 88-run stand that showcased unfathomable skill. Niranjan, however, was guilty of chewing up a few dots which the opposition were quick to point out. At 7-70 the big fella really should’ve looked to clear the front foot. Hit out or get out I say. 

The Seagulls finished on 8/173 with the two lower-order bats getting us into the contest and giving us something to defend. Thanking them greatly. 

With the wicket flattening out and no sign of crumble in sight, Penrith blew out to 0-50 off 10. Pappy and your faithful scribe, still extremely sheepish, held our faith. 

That faith was well-placed with James Aitken absolute rissoling the Penrith top order. The bloke bowled an unbelievable spell that could only be described as a masterclass. The spell was not without controversy however. 

As the Penrith no.3 strode to the crease, full of swagger with the rig to match, he was accosted by none other than half-century maker Niranjan Naguleswaran. Turns out their no.3 had a few choice words for Niranjan as he made his way to 50, and like an elephant, Naguleswaran doesn’t forget. 

11 2s v Penrith Round 9

A polite exchange of views ensued, with Naguleswaran on top early, landing hefty blow after hefty blow. The crowd was stunned. Their no.3 didn’t know what hit him. Left, right, left, uppercut, the bloke still dazed as his off peg was ripped out of the ground. Naguleswaran sealing the hammer blow one final riposte. Good god it was beautiful. 

Remarkably, the passionate back-and forth continued into the drinks huddle, however it only served to poke the Bears.  The cerebral and considered dialogue clearly destablised the whole Penrith side, however, as they lost 8/55, crumbling to 108 all out. 

Shoutouts must be given to Fletch and Niranjan who bowled beautifully to support James Aitken in a team effort that had to be seen to be believed. Notable mention to Alexander who took his touch form into the middle, pitching one a metre outside leg and clipping the top of off after building pressure with a few accurate dots, followed by a one handed catch to Broc Hardy in a partnership that stirred memories of Warne and Boon.

The song was sung loud and proud as we look to take all the aggression and momentum back to North Sydney next week, coming up against Manly-Warringah. 

Thanking all, but mostly GA’s double-sided coin.