Week 17 Wrap vs Randwick-Petersham, Gordon and Universities

1st Grade Round 17: UTS North Sydney v Randwick-Petersham at Coogee Oval

UTS North Sydney 188 (46.4 overs) (J Avendano 57, R Aitken 33, TA Jagot 29) def by Randwick-Petersham 8/232 (cc) (R Aitken 4/54, M Alexander 2/33)

After two weeks off due to the apocalyptic rain, there was a last day of school feeling for Round 17 against finals-bound Randy Petes. But the Bears were at full strength but for the prolonged absence of Tim Reynolds (who made a return for Third Grade the following day), and were buoyed by Tom Jagot winning the toss and electing to bowl with an outfield still heavy from all the rain.

The decision appeared well justified by the opening exchanges, with both opening bowlers giving little away, and Matt Alexander trapping Will Affleck caught down the leg side by Aiden Bariol in the fourth over with the score on 7. Alexander and James Campbell sent down five overs each in the Powerplay with just 22 runs conceded including a single four.

The openers were replaced by Olly Knight and Mac Jenkins and then James Aitken joined the attack before the first drinks break. While the Bears couldn’t quite get the breakthrough, Petes struggled to get the ball away, and even when the infield was pierced, the slow outfield saw it stop before the fence. The score at drinks was 1/49 off 18 and honours even – a platform set, but the bowlers well in control of the run rate.

Unfortunately, after drinks the runs began to flow a little more freely, with both batsmen finding the fence a few times and rotating the strike well, getting the score up to 125 in the 34th over before Rob Aitken had Riley Ayre caught behind for 55. Alexander followed up by removing the dangerous Anthony Sams the following over and drinks were taken at 3/126 with the Bears well in the hunt.

The game turned after drinks, with Petes managing a further 106 in the remaining 14.1 overs. Camden Hawkins was the mainstay, making 96 before being bowled by Campbell (1/42) after a few nervous shots in the 90s. All other middle order players chipped in, most notably Basit Ali who made 25 off 16 after being dropped on 1, before being run out by a sharp throw from Brent Atherton. Former Bear, Adam Docos, played out a maiden in the 47th over from Matt Alexander, who was probably the pick of the Bears’ bowlers, before being stumped off Rob Aitken on the final ball of the innings. Aitken, who bowled 10 overs straight from 32 to 50, finished with 4/54, and Randy Petes closed 8/232.

It was a very respectable score given the conditions, but batting had started to look a little easier as the innings progressed, and some of the moisture had evaporated from the outfield, so it looked to be chaseable.

The Bears’ innings started similarly to Randwick’s, with an early wicket (Atherton bowled in the sixth over) followed by a watchful partnership setting a foundation. But Tom Jagot (29) falling to a return catch with the score on 77 set in motion a collapse that saw us struggling at 6/107 in the 28th over. Justin Avendano was marooned at the other end in the 30s as wickets fell around him but eventually found an accomplice in Rob Aitken and reached 50 off 67 balls with a six over long on. By the final drinks break, the Bears were second favourites but not out of it, at 6/130 off 34, needing another 103 off 16.

Unfortunately, our fate was all but sealed when Avendano was dismissed for 57, and we were bowled out for 188 in the 47th over. Rob Aitken made 33 and the lower order all contributed (with Matt Alexander and James Campbell playing only their third and second innings of the season respectively!), but it was too tall an order, and Petes took home the chocolates to secure third place on the ladder.

We ended a very mixed season in 12th place, though only six points behind 8th. Despite a short run of great wins after Christmas, losses since then coupled with coming out on the wrong side of a couple of thrillers in the early season means that we end up thinking about what might have been. But a proper return to two-day cricket next year will be welcome, and there was a lot to be cheerful about this season.

Justin Avendano stamped his authority on the competition, as second top run-scorer with 836 runs at 76, Olly Knight had a breakthrough year as a genuine all-rounder at the top grade, our young batting line-up showed its class and new faces stepped up when called upon, and our fast bowling duo took 47 wickets between them with the white ball. And the Round 17 winner of the $100 Bradman Medal round prize, Rob Aitken, shows no sign of slowing down after 508 career First Grade games…

Winter well, Bears!

2nd Grade Round 17: UTS North Sydney v Randwick-Petersham at Petersham Oval

UTS North Sydney 196 (49 overs) (B Kumar 33, F Nixon-Tomko 31, G Aitken 26) def Randwick-Petersham 191 (49.1) (S Alexander 3/34, RD Alexander 2/11, J Hedges 2/48)

Three weeks of relentless rain nearly washed away all hopes of finishing the season with a game of cricket. By good fortune and hard work, Randwick Petersham were able to produce several wickets that allowed matches to be played. The UTS North Sydney Second Grade side played the Randy Petes team at one of the most picturesque grounds in Sydney, Petersham Oval. Despite the torrential rain, the ground was surprisingly well prepared, although very damp with a very spicy wicket.

UTS North Sydney lost the toss and were sent in on a deck that looked like it was “going to do a lot”. There were concerns that this could be a very costly toss to lose. Many teams have been bowled out for less than 100 runs on better wickets.

An under-strength bowling attack looked more dangerous than it should have on this soft and juicy track. Balls were popping, rolling, seaming, cutting and even exploding. As soon as the ball hit the wicket, it was a lucky dip as to the result. In very difficult circumstances, we lost two early wickets, only to have Finn Tomko-Nixon (31) and Baran Kumar (33) fight hard to get the Bears off with a decent start. Both batsmen were positive and controlled in their stroke play and defence. It was textbook stuff and set the platform for the remainder of the innings.

The middle order continued the good start. Ray Alexander (22) and Glenn Aitken (26) formed a good partnership, continuing to build the total and push the score past 100 in trying circumstances. Both batsmen used their experience to blunt the attack and punish any bad ball mercilessly. The conditions continued to improve; however, the wicket was still extremely bowler friendly. Harri Lee-Young (23) provided some excitement with some big hitting, clearing the boundary a few times. He looked back to his best, which was great to see. He combined with the lower order, Jamieson Hedges (13), Fletcher May (10) and Harrison May (18) to push the score close to 200. With one over to left in the innings and the ever reliable and in form Sam Alexander headed to the crease, it looked like we were going to push past 200. Harrison backed himself to clear the boundary and unfortunately, we were dismissed for a total of 196. It was a great team effort and well above par for the dicey deck that all batsmen had to face.

The May brothers were opening the bowling and everyone was terrified, including the fielding team. They charged into the crease with bloodshot angry eyes and steam pouring from their nostrils with a packed and hungry slip cordon. It was an onslaught from the start! Fletch May (3/24) was back to his best and ripped off the outside edge of the opening batsmen! The ball flew at extraordinary pace to a shallow slip cordon and straight into the safe left hand of Sam Alexander for the first of three spectacular catches for the day. This was followed by another wicket for Fletch, a sharp catch to the safe hands of Baran. Harrison bowled well at the other end without luck (0/28) It was just the start that the team needed.

Randy Petes fought back and built a partnership, but it was not long until the spin bowling from the experienced Sam Alexander (3/34) produced the results. Another outside edge to first slip into the even safer hands of the skipper GA. The Alexander brothers combined to take more middle order wickets with Sam catching another sharp chance at midwicket. The second set of brothers were ably supported by the skilful bowling of Jamieson Hedges (2/48) who bowled two excellent spells. Randy Petes slumped to 8/136 and victory was in sight, until the seemingly strongest batsmen in Second Grade strode to the crease, James Widerstrom (57). He was built like Schwarzenegger and hit the ball as far as you can imagine. He paired with the Randy Petes’ number 10 to put on 41 and bring the game back into the balance. It was getting close.

Calm heads and experience were required. Sam Alexander ripped the ball from the captain’s hand and said, “leave it to me”. The captain knew what this meant. He’d seen that look in Sam’s eyes before, admittedly it was usually around 3am in different circumstances. But “cometh the hour, cometh the man” and that's exactly what happened. Sam dismissed the set batsmen with a flick of the fingers and a cheeky wink and like that the Bears were back in the game with Randy Petes 9/177.

Only 19 were runs left to play deep into the final overs of the game. It was close. With Sam Alexander having bowled all his overs, the team turned to the Big Horse (Harrison May) who bowled a great 49th over against the no11. A combination of pace and slower balls resulted in a maiden. The game culminated to the point where, Petes were 9/191 with one over remaining, needing six to win.

Ray Alexander, who was injured, put his hand up to bowl the last over. The game was set to be won or lost. It came down to who was going to hold their nerve, who was going to be mentally and physically stronger. Ray Alexander steamed in and hit the crease harder than ever. The pace deceived the batsmen. The first ball caught the toe of the big hitting number 10 and the ball sailed towards midwicket in a low arc. The ever alert and agile Sam Alexander was on to it immediately. He ran in five metres and launched himself towards the sinking ball with no regard for his own safety. Victory was the only thing on his mind. The ball landed safely in his safe hands and the Second Grade side secured a well deserved win to finish the season!!! A great team effort from everyone!

Women's 2nd Grade Round 15: Gordon / UTS North Sydney v Universities at Chatswood Oval

No play due to ground conditions

3rd Grade Round 17: UTS North Sydney v Randwick-Petersham at Coogee Oval

UTS North Sydney 93 (39.2 Overs) (A Nigul 27) drew Randwick-Petersham

With Manly defeating Hawkesbury on Saturday, the Bears headed to Coogee Oval for a rare Sunday fixture, to play Randy Petes knowing they could not make finals.

Skipper Lindsay named a strong team with First Graders Tim Reynolds back from injury and Jimmy Greenslade available for a Sunday match.

The toss was won and Bears elected to bat on the same strip that was used in 1st grade a day prior. Adi Nigul and Aidan Thomas started brightly and the Bears were 0/25 early. Unfortunately, this was the highlight of the morning as wickets tumbled and Bears couldn’t manage to string a partnership together. Nigul (27) was the only batsman to make a score of note as the Bears were bundled out for a disappointing 93 in the 40th over.

RPs needed a bonus point to make the finals and had set the game up perfectly to do so. Unfortunately for them a heavy rain storm lashed the ground during the lunch break, dumping a huge amount of water on an already damp field.

Randy Petes are to be commended for their energy and efforts in attempting to dry the ground out, but water had got under the covers onto the pitch that meant play had no chance of continuing.

All in all, it was a disappointing end to the season with a moral loss inflicted on 3s. We finish the season in tenth place, seven points adrift of sixth.

Women's 3rd Grade Round 15: UTS North Sydney v BYE

4th Grade Round 17: UTS North Sydney v Randwick-Petersham at Snape Park

No play due to ground conditions

This week’s 4s report is easy…

It was a bit muddy in one spot. We stood around for a couple of hours hoping the sun would shine as bright and as hot as it does in the Sahara Desert and dry it out. It didn’t. It rained again. We went home. Dhruva’s five-page meticulous match plan sadly went to waste.

Courtesy of Ash Perrott, aka Supercoach, who was disappointed not to make his Bears playing debut in the game.

5th Grade Round 17: UTS North Sydney v Randwick-Petersham at Kensington Oval

UTS North Sydney 5/88(29.5 overs) (LA Smith 44*) def Randwick-Petersham 87 (43.3 overs) (J Thomas 4/17, A Perry 3/13, J Edwards 2/10)

After two weeks of torrential downpour, the fourth placed Fifth Grade Bears promptly arrived at Kensington Oval to be greeted with a dry outfield and a well-prepared pitch. Opponents for the day, Randwick Petersham, required a win to keep their finals hopes alive, while the Bears were looking to jump local rivals Gordon and secure a home final...

As per every other match this season, the Bears bowled first, after Perry won the toss and looked to make the most of the advantageous morning conditions. And that they did. Jack Thomas, back in the side, dismantled the Randwick top order, taking three early wickets, caught by Luke Smith in the gully, caught behind by Harry Davis and bowled. Alex MacGill got the next breakthrough assisted by a brilliant catch by Sol Balbi at mid-wicket, running back and judging the ball dropping over his head.

The weather seemed to be feeling a little left out, not playing a part in the day as yet, so of course, rain began to fall and play was stopped during the 15th over, Randwick sitting at 4/25.

Upon return to play, James Edwards continued the onslaught, taking 2/10 off his 6 overs, with support from Green Shield teammate Henry Charles at the other end keeping things tight.

Wickets 7 through 9 fell to Perry, all three being caught. Charlie Rose made a well-judged catch running around on the boundary, Oliver Jennings took his second catch of the day at long on and Perry added another caught and bowled to his tally. These pressure wickets wouldn’t have happened without Vrushab Kumar spinning up a storm at the other end, turning the ball at right angles. Despite the constant shouts for LBW, the ball was always doing too much for Kumar to pick up a wicket. To finish the innings off, Jack Thomas rolled his fingers over one to bowl and dismiss the last Randwick batsmen, finishing with figures of 4/17. Randwick all out for 87.

Clinical in the field, taking seven catches, the Bears showed no signs that the two-week break had disrupted their momentum.

Chasing 88 for victory, Luke Smith and Oli Jennings strode out to the middle. They began the chase the rigorous intent, taking the score to 27 off 5 overs before Jennings pushed for a quick single and was unfortunately run out.

Smith was the rock of the innings, carrying his bat and finishing with a classy 44 not out. Supported by meaningful contributions from Perry, Thomas and MacGill, the Bears secured a bonus point victory, chasing the target 5 down within the 30 over mark.

A washout at Gordon sees the Bears jump to third place at the conclusion of the regular season, and a home final at Bon Andrews awaits.

At the conclusion of the regular season, 8 wins, 3 bonus point wins and only 3 losses to speak of (two of which were nail bitters), the Bears look to carry their momentum into the Qualifying Final in a rematch of Round 2 against Gordon.

U18 Brewer Shield Round 15: UTS North Sydney v Gordon at Bon Andrews Oval

No play due to ground conditions

Media courtesy of Tony Johnson, David James, Sarah Berman, Adam Cavenor, Malcolm Trees, Evy McKay, Gordon Women's Cricket Club and team captains.