Week 25 Wrap vs Manly and Northern Districts

4th Grade Semi-Final: UTS North Sydney v Manly-Warringah at Weldon Oval

UTS North Sydney 184 (72.1 Overs) (R Broom 63, T Hogan 33) def by Manly-Warringah 270 (94.1 Overs) (H Charles 4/49, V Kumar 3/91)

A dance with the best for a shot at it all. That is what awaited the Bears as they turned up to the inviting Weldon Oval prepared for the Semi Final clash between them and Manly Warringah. The surrounds were serene, and the weather much more pleasant than the week prior.

Needing to take ten wickets to ensure a result, Perry did not hesitate to be aggressive and bowl first when he won the toss. Right from ball one, the team knew they were going to be in for a titular clash with another heavyweight from the competition. Balbi struck first, with a delicious ball that jagged back and just like that, the Bears were off and running for the day. Tom Cole was introduced after the mandatory six over spell was completed for Charles, and it was almost as if nothing changed, constant play and misses on a length outside the off stump. The Manly batsmen were strong and resolute in what was a tough first hour, Charles and Balbi were stronger, holding them to 1.5 runs an over at the first drinks break.

With the game poised, almost as if waiting for either team to make the first move, Perry threw the ball to prized off-spinner Kumar, and he delivered for the skipper first ball, removing the other opener caught at gully by Karan diving forward. A little bit of loop and drift to entice the batsmen into the shot, right on the money for his first ball. He followed up again quickly, removing the number three leg before whilst trying to sweep, and suddenly, the bears were on top at 3/36. Manly continued to grind it out until the lunch break, sitting at 3 for 51. A disciplined session of bowling for the Bears, who couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Semi.

Post lunch, Kumar continued to build pressure from one end, while the quicks asked questions at the other. And shortly after lunch, Kumar struck with his third, with a little turn and bounce one clipped the outside edge, caught behind by Perry. And when Charles had the number 6 caught at gully by Nigul, the game was busted wide open. Time for the bears to take the game by the scruff of the neck, if they could remove the number 4, they felt as though they were in the back door. And that they did, a slight field change from Perry and Charles bowling to a plan saw Karan take his second catch of the day at backward square, dismissing the dangerous Englishman. And when the Canberra prodigy Hogan took the edge of the number seven, the Bears were well on top at 7 for 120.

But how wrong they were, the tail was the answer for the Waratahs, with the pitch flattening out, the ball getting softer, the batsmen could trust their eye and swing through the line, and some glorious lower order hitting took the score up to 170 at tea.

Charles was on it straight after tea, taking the edge of the Manly skipper and having him caught sharply by Kumar at slip. However, this did not halt the momentum of the hosts. They continued to play aggressively, taking the score past 200 before the 9tth wicket fell to Tom Cole, caught sharply at long off by Robin Broom. And unfortunately for the bears, the tail made the most of the conditions, and continued to grind it out putting on roughly another 50 before Charles taking the final wicket within 2 overs of the close of play to leave the bears chasing 271 for victory.

The score was difficult, but not out of reach if the new ball was seen off and the side batted 96 overs. The Bears were confident they would get the job done when they returned on the Sunday.

Singh and Nigul strode out to the crease, knowing what they had to achieve, and set about their business early. Singh fell to one that jumped a bit on him, caught in the slips, putting the bears in a spot of bother. But the calmness of Hogan and poise of Nigul guided their side to one down at drinks. The pair continued to milk runs after drinks with some glorious late cuts and drives, however Nigul fell in a similar fashion to Singh, guiding one to third slip. Matt Cole and Hogan set about getting the team to lunch two down, and that they did, two runs ahead of what the hosts were on the prior day. Another win.

Post lunch, the job still clear, the pair put on another 25, including a bomb from Hogan, before Cole’s eyes lit up and was caught on the fence from a full toss off a spinner. Karan came in looking to change the pace of the game, going four, six, four in quick succession before a brain snap saw him caught on the fence the next ball. Hogan quickly followed after a patient 33, caught sweeping at backward square.

A huge collapse, losing three key batsmen in quick succession saw Manly now sit on top, and it was down to Broom, Perry and the tail to attempt to steer the side home, 170 odd adrift. The pair fought as they always do, Perry rotating the strike to Broom while he played his usual destructive game, crunching back foot drives and lofting quicks over their head. But as soon as it looked as if there was still a chance, the partnership came to an end when Perry had one hold in the pitch on him, and was unfortunately caught at mid off.

Kumar came and went quickly, and Charles was resolute with a 33 ball duck, putting on a partnership with Broom hitting spinners over the sight screen at the other end, however it was a tough end for the Bears, crumbling to be all out 184.

Not the way the season was supposed to end, being significantly on top at some stages and always feeling the game was up for grabs until 2pm on the second day. The collapse cost us, but our bowling was strong, Charles and Kumar doing the damage and everyone else playing their role and chipping in. Broom was as destructive as ever, but the session after lunch cost us, losing big wickets carelessly, which you cant get away with chasing a big total.

A disappointing way to wrap up the season, but the fight was there, undone by a classier team in the end. The hunger to go two steps better next year is there for the side as they look to come back stronger in 23/24.

5th Grade Semi-Final: UTS North Sydney v Northern Districts at Tunks International Sports Park

UTS North Sydney 137 (K Vanapamula 27) def by Northern Districts 156 (A MacGill 5/53, K Dhawan 2/14, R Lavery 2/42)

Unfortunately the mighty 5th grade locomotive was stopped on its tracks at the semi final stage for the 2nd year in a row.

A total of 156 was not reachable at Tunks International Sports Park after a war of attrition that saw neither team get anywhere near 2 runs an over for the weekend.

After electing to bowl first the wickets did not present themselves as they typically had early at Tunks in previous rounds, so through patient bowling and some reverse luck the visiting Northern District team went into lunch 2 down with their premier batsmen in the sheds. Alex MacGill (5/53 from 26 overs) bowled diligently again from one end most of the day and managed to extract 5 wickets from a very non-responsive wicket, conversely at the other end Rob Lavery (2/42 from 25 overs) toiled relentlessly to build pressure on the NDs batsmen while Kish Dhawan (2/14 from 11 overs) made key breakthroughs to finish their innings.

To the opposition’s credit a total of 156 had produced more wins than losses in recent history and the patient way they accumulated these runs was a reflection on how well they focussed on the task.

Regrettably, in response to this very gettable total the North Sydney batsmen as a group did not apply the same commitment to their wickets as the opposition had done; key Bears played false strokes putting us in peril several times during our innings. Chris Lloyd (24 from 96), Krish Vanapamula (27 from 71) and Eesa Omar (18 from 75) showed promise during the middle part of the innings however a collapse destroyed any realistic chance of getting the runs.

At this point it should be keenly noted that the 10th wicket partnership for a brief window looked like it could be an all time save for the bears, the stuff of legend and late night folklore at Percy’s. Shiv Vohra (8 from 54) and Alex Macgill (19 from 64) combined for a 29 run partnership over 2 hours of batting that made the visitors very nervous; it was a great display of solid rear guard batting that embodied the spirit of the Bears. Sadly it was not to be.

All of the 5th grade players from this year should be very proud of the contributions they have made, many have gone up the grades and some have stayed and battled it out every week. It was an absolute pleasure to play with you all and would love to take the extra step next year and win a grand final, until then stay safe and look forward to presentation night.

Media courtesy of Tony Johnson, Malcolm Trees, MTV Photo Sydney, Jeff Williamson, Greg Buckley, Adam Cavenor and UTS North Sydney members.