Week 3 Wrap vs Blacktown, St George-Sutherland, NDs and Easts

1st Grade Round 3: UTS North Sydney v Blacktown at Joe McAleer Reserve

UTS North Sydney 6/216 (49 overs) (JN James 57, O Knight 53, BS Atherton 50*, J Avendano 29) def Blacktown 212 (47 overs) (J Campbell 4/39, O Knight 4/63, A Bariol 5 catches)

The Bears trekked out to Joe McAleer Reserve at Blacktown under dark skies for their round 3 fixture against the Blacktown Mounties. The toss was won by the home side and they chose to have a bat on a surface that looked fairly green from the recent rain. The Mounties pushed limited overs specialists Sydney to the last ball in their game the previous week, so the Bears needed to be switched on.

James Campbell and Matt Alexander opened the bowling for the visitors with the two Blacktown bats adopting completely different approaches – DiBartolo dealing in boundries and the other fella content to take the shine off the ball. After six overs Blacktown had reached 30 without loss before Campbell struck in the 7th and then in the 9th over with two deliveries that pitched and seamed away off the grassy surface taking the edge of both openers’ bats into the safe hands of Aiden Bariol behind the stumps to reduce the Mounties to 2/36.

Olly Knight took over from Alexander and was successful in his first over with another caught behind to Bariol and Blacktown in some early trouble at 3/40 after 10 on what now looked a more than challenging wicket. Campbell finished his first spell with two wickets in the bag but Knight was not done claiming the fourth Blacktown wicket. Knight dug the ball into the wicket. The batsman had a go, sending the ball flying high off the top edge, giving Sam Alexander time to run around from mid-on and take a good catch behind the stumps at the bowler’s end. The Mounties then put on a quickfire 50 run partnership before Knight collected his third wicket with the catch once again taken by Bariol as the batsman slashed at the ball. To cap off a great day with the ball Knight (4/63 off 10) picked up his fourth wicket with the batsman gliding the ball straight to Justin Avendano in the gully and Blacktown were 6/96 in the 21st over.

A second counter-attack by the Mounties netted another 54 runs before James Campbell (4/39 off 10) returned for his second spell to put them back on their heels at 8/154 with two wickets in the 33rd over. The first wicket was a successful lbw appeal and the second was caught behind by Bariol, giving him five catches for the match. The Blacktown tail kept their teams’ chances alive and the scoreboard ticking with a handy 40 run stand for the ninth wicket. This time Matt Alexander (1/33 off 9) was the successful bowler with the batsman swiping across the line only to lose his stumps. It was a milestone moment for Matt who has now taken 100 poles in first grade for the Bears. Robbie Aitken (1/35 off 8) took one for the spinners, trapping the number 11 in front and Blacktown were all out 212 in the 49th over. It was an excellent bowling display with the quicks doing most of the damage on the bowler-friendly surface.

After losing captain Tom Jagot early to a ball that jagged sharply back into his stumps, Jack James and Justin Avendano settled in for a 66 run partnership for the second wicket. James looked solid, rotating the strike and hitting the odd boundary, while Avendano took his time taking 14 balls to register his first run – a run that took him to 5,000 first grade runs. Once Justin (29) did get off the mark, he was scoring at more than a run a ball, and after 17 overs the pair looked well in control with the score reaching 74 runs. Blacktown then moved the game onto a more even footing, removing both Aiden Bariol to one that stayed low, and Tim Reynolds in quick succession and suddenly the Bears were 4/84 after 23 overs. James (57) was joined by his former opening partner Brent Atherton. The partnership was not without controversy, with a huge appeal for a catch down the leg side after a brilliant take in the slips off James and then an appeal for obstructing the field against Atherton the following over. Despite this, Jack passed fifty and looked set for a big score before being brilliantly caught low down by a diving slip fielder. His 57 came off 100 balls and included 3 fours, so plenty of singles and twos in a fighting innings.

At 5/103 and still 110 required from the remaining 20 overs the game was on a knife’s edge for a second week in a row. Enter Olly Knight, who was brimming with confidence after his effort with the ball earlier in the day. It was a tough wicket to start on, with Knight needing 8 balls for his first run. Knight and Atherton started to rebuild slowly with the run rate required getting up towards 7 per over by the end of the 38th over. Knight (53) then struck three huge sixes and three boundaries in the next 6 overs to claw the Bears closer to victory. Olly registered his fourth first grade fifty and arguably his most important. The 82-run partnership was the best of the day and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

However, the job was not done with 28 runs still required from the final four overs after Olly was out stumped. What looked to be a good 47th over for the opposition turned sour as Atherton got away a four from the final ball of the over – 21 runs to go – 18 balls remaining. It was the same pattern in the 48th – 5 runs off and then a big six to Brent (50*) off the final ball to bring the target down to 10 and bring up his 50 from 59 balls. The 49th over was brilliant to watch. Robbie Aitken (16*) lofted the ball into gaps and charged back for two runs off the first three balls. A dot and then another well run two. With two runs to win and the field up, Robbie smashed the ball through the field for four to the cheers from the boys in the stand.

The victory secured a spot in the top six (5th on quotient) level with Easts, Gordon and Randwick-Petersham. It sets up an intriguing clash with local rivals Manly, who registered their first win today and currently sit in 18th place, in Round 4.

2nd Grade Round 3: UTS North Sydney v Blacktown at Tunks International Sports Park

UTS North Sydney 172 (48.1 overs) (G Aitken 51) def by Blacktown 183 (48.2 overs) (F May 3/54, J Hedges 2/18, HP Lee-Young 2/27)

Twos turned up to a picturesque Tunks Park and won the toss by default and elected to bowl first.

James aka ‘the finisher’ Aitken from the previous week started with Brad Wilson (0/22 off 10) and both bowled very economically to get us to the first drinks break at 1/31 off 20 overs. James was so economical he returned figures of 1/9 off 10 overs with 5 maidens.

Kobe Allison (1/40) and Fletcher May (3/54) then came on and continued to apply pressure to the Blacktown batsmen. Kobe bowled without much luck and Fletch picked up where he finished off the previous week.

Harri Lee-Young, Jacob Graham and Jameson Hedges (2/18) shared the remaining overs with Jameson bowling well again at the death and Harri (2/27) taking his first 2 wickets on his Second Grade debut.

Blacktown were bowled out for 183 leaving us 184 to win off our 50 overs

Finn Nixon-Tomko and Jacob Graham started our innings off and unfortunately we lost a few early wickets leaving the captain Glenn Aitken and Raymond Alexander at the crease at the first drinks break.

The runs were starting to flow until Raymond was undone by a nice delivery with the score on 60. Glenn and James Aitken (23) steadied the ship for us with Glenn bringing up his first 50 of the season before getting out after a partnership of 58. Kobe and James looked like they were going to bring it home until a few pieces of good fielding from Blacktown helped them take the upper hand and despite some nice batting from Fletch (19) we just fell short by 11.

Lots to take out of the day and plenty to work on for the lads this week.

Women's 2nd Grade Round 2: Gordon / UTS North Sydney v Northern Districts at ASquith Oval

Abandoned due to rain

3rd Grade Round 3: UTS North Sydney v Blacktown at Jim Hanshaw Oval

UTS North Sydney 202 (48.2 Overs) (NC Hay 62, C New 47) def (+ bonus point) Blacktown 54 (22.1 overs) (H May 4/32, C Savage 3/3, FJ Noack 2/16)

Ahhhhh Whalan Reserve… the hardest part of the drive out is choosing which McDonalds drive-thru to visit for your steaming hot blend of arabica and full-cream milk. Whatever your choice, it’s a calming note to start your day and balm the grumbles of an away game out west.

Third Grade were up for a good showing this round after shaking the rust off against Gordon. An early hiccup in the form of a shovel-pass coin toss meant that your Bears were asked to bat first on a pitch that had tiger stripes running across the full 22 yards.

There was plenty of swing on offer early with the ball, and two wickets brought skipper Cam New and in-form keeper-batsman John Nevell together to build on their time together in the previous round. The pair added 63 for the third wicket before Cam was dismissed just short of 50 for the second consecutive innings.

Enter Nicholas Hay - one of the Bears’ exciting Third Grade prospects for the season ahead. I could have sworn I heard him sigh in relief as he walked to the wicket - possibly in knowing that Cam wouldn’t be able to run him out again this week. Nic compiled a pleasing 62, supported by John on his way to 32, and then with the majority of the lower order. A mixture of power hitting and strike rotation helped the score along to just under 200 before Nic was dismissed in the 48th over.

Harrison “Big Horse” May showed off his new Kingsport stick (probably a cool $749 off the shelf at Kingsgrove Westside) to chip in with 15 valuable runs to guide the Bears to 202 all out.

It was a pleasing note for the Third Graders passing 200 in both rounds so far. This is the standard which we need to maintain throughout the season and build on towards 250 as a means to challenge the best teams in the comp on a consistent basis.

The second half of the match was about as pleasing a performance as you could ask for from the bowlers. Clear plans heading into the first over and consistency in executing those plans.

Harry May showcased his stamina in the cool afternoon air. The big horse galloped through his full 10 overs, swinging the new pill both ways and returning an excellent 4/32. At the other end; Fraser “the blueprint” Noack combined his superior physique and some very rarified chat to undermine the batters’ confidence. He let the ball make the most noise, and challenged both sides of the bat through 6 overs to finish his spell with 2/16.

The final member of this weekend’s seam trio, Chris Savage, would not be left without his crack at the Mounties. His persistent chirping from second slip about requiring no warm-up to hit the pegs was rewarded with the ball at the end of the batting powerplay. Sav did not disappoint, taking just three balls to disturb the stumps of Blacktown’s middle-order batsman. It was a feat he repeated twice more on his way to figures of 3/3 off 3.1 overs.

Special mention to Everett Oxenham who only managed one over of his well-controlled off spinners before the innings was closed. On another day, we might have seen some more of Everett’s best as he was squeezing plenty of turn and bounce out of a pitch that had been quite receptive to spin during the first innings. He is definitely a Bear to keep an eye on this season whenever he pulls the UTS North Sydney red and black on.

A very pleasing bowling performance closed out the Blacktown innings on 54 from 20.1 overs bowled, securing a well-received bonus point for the Third Graders which sees them settle into 6th place on the ladder.

Your Third Grade side will take on Manly next weekend away at LM Graham Reserve - a good litmus test for the Bears who will want to consolidate a place in the top six.

Women's 3rd Grade Round 2: UTS North Sydney v St George-Sutherland at Gannons Park

UTS North Sydney 9/55 (cc) def by St George-Sutherland 4/119 (cc)

We can sum this game up in a sentence: "pretty ordinary batting against very good bowling, followed by pretty ordinary batting against very good bowling"!

On a field that seemed to promise plenty of boundaries, but didn't deliver, we got off to a slow start with the bat against some really good bowling from the Slayers’ imported Brewers players, who returned figures of 11 overs 3 for 19 in a T20 match! Not that we were complaining, we had some imports of our own as we struggled with numbers because of HSC, uni exams and Covid isolations. All fair, no excuses.

And there was no faulting any of our batters - all were given zero width or length to work with and all found run-scoring to be incredibly difficult. To our credit we showed great skill to keep out some very quick yorkers with impressive straight bats. Ultimately, frustration and the need to raise the run rate would mean a rash shot to some very good fielding; five of our batters were out caught, and only one made double-figures (India Keating, 13) as we slowly crept up to only 29 runs off 10 overs and then 54 runs in our 20 overs.

We could easily have given up hope, but instead we came out full of character and energy and threw everything we had into trying to actually win this game! Our opening bowlers did to them exactly what they did to us, only better! After 10 overs, the Slayers were on 3/27 - amazingly we were ahead by 2 runs at the halfway mark! Skipper, Hetti Blackburn, set a really attacking field, our bowlers used line and length attack to pin them down, and our fielders were sharp and full of energy. Sarah suggested everyone come in even closer to cut off singles, Anna L cut off shot after shot at short fine leg, Evy brought along her magic hands behind the stumps and as a team we really frustrated the batters. Anjali was the pick of the bowlers (4 overs, 1/9) and there was a real sense of excitement building ...

It wasn't to be this time, however. A switch in mindset from SGS's #5 and #6 saw them really go for it, and fortune favoured their braves today. We missed a few catches that might have made the game much closer; in the end the Slayers took 15 overs to pass our score. We then gave all our bowlers a chance against well-set batters, overly flattering their final score which included 60 off the last 5 overs.

Great bowling and fielding, Bears, let's put it all together next week!

4th Grade Round 3: UTS North Sydney v Blacktown at Whalan Oval

UTS North Sydney 70 (35.4 overs) (P Lindsay 24) def by Blacktown 3/71 (26 overs) (P Lindsay 3/9)

4th grade trekked out to Whalan to take on the Mounties, keen to open their account for the season.

Skipper Pat Lindsay lost the toss again, which would prove significant as the wicket appeared a little tacky and the conditions were humid and overcast - perfect bowling conditions. Whalen is a massive ground, and even when roped in, it is still very large and 150+ was felt to be the par score. Alas at 5/15 in the 9th over this felt a long long way away.

The first five wickets fell due to a combination of good bowling and poor defensive execution. Had the Bears been able to survive this period, the wicket did flatten out somewhat as evidenced by Lindsay’s (24) 78 and Alex McGills (7) 46 ball stays at the crease.

Ultimately the Bears stumbled their way to all out for 70 - a poor score no matter the conditions.

4s tried hard with the ball, but Blacktown defended more resolutely and passed our total 3 down in the 26th over. All three wickets were taken by the captain who returned figures of 3/9 off 6 overs.

We will need to dust ourselves off quickly with a big clash vs Manly awaiting.

5th Grade Round 3: UTS North Sydney v Blacktown at Bon Andrews Oval

UTS North Sydney 8/256 (cc) (A Thomas 60, C Rose 40, A Perry 36, H Riseborough 26) def by Blacktown 258 (49.2 overs) (A Thomas 4/32, J Thomas 2/26, A Perry 2/51)

An absolute treat for Round 3 awaited the Fifth Grade team, a match on the hallowed turf of Bon Andrews. Usually residing at Tunks Park, the lack of sightscreens provided the side a chance to play on the same ground where First Grade played the week prior, undoubtably providing some extra hype for the fresher members of the team! Waiting was a Blacktown side playing their first game of the young season after their match last week was washed out.

The captains and umpires came together at 9.30 for the toss, which Perry lost, and with that, the Bears would bowl first.

Jack Thomas and Henry Charles took the new ball this week, aiming to replicate the successes of last week up top. Unfortunately, it was not to be, with the two Blacktown openers playing aggressively from ball one. The pitch was perfect for batting on, hard and fast, with a true bounce.

Through the opening and first change spells, there were many miscued shots by the Blacktown openers, none of which managed to go to hand. Other days would've seen these chances fall in different spots, but not today. Oli Millar finally made the first breakthrough, with Callum Fursman taking the catch at point after some tight bowling, leaving Blacktown 1/80 at drinks.

Their other opener however, was not slowing down, despite the tight bowling. Rob Lavery and Alex Perry began to tighten the screws, and when Perry had their number 3 batsmen caught by Fursman at short cover, the Bears sensed a swing in momentum at 3/180. This, coupled with Henry Charles' run out of the other opener, turned the innings on its head, as the danger man was finally removed for 125.

Perry then removed another Blacktown Spartan leg before wicket, and that led into the Thomas show...

Aidan Thomas and Jack Thomas combined for the final six wickets, in a brilliant display of back end seam bowling. Tightening the screws and building pressure, Aidan took 4 wickets, with Jack taking two catches off his brother, and clean bowling the final two batsmen to finish off the innings, leaving Blacktown all out for 258.

Considering that at stages it seemed as though the opposition were on track for 300+, the heart and effort the team showed to reign them in was second to none. And with a quick outfield and a confident batting line up, the Bears begun to ready themselves for the chase.

Fresh off his 4 wickets, Aidan strode out to the centre alongside Henry Riseborough to begin setting up the mammoth chase. The pair played brilliantly, seeing off the new ball, whilst going at the required run rate and then some. It was a chanceless partnership, Aidan playing glorious cover drives and Henry rotating the strike and cashing in on some loose bowling with pristine timing. Unfortunately for the pair, the partnership came unstuck at 86, when Riseborough was run out for 26 pushing for a second run.

Luke Smith strode out to the middle for the first time this season, and opened his account with a 4 off his first ball, followed by another shortly after. His eyes lit up when their leg spinner dropped a half tracker, and he picked out the man on the fence, being caught for a quick-fire 9.

Alex Perry came to join Aidan at the crease, keeping the momentum going and rotating the strike and challenging the fielders. Aidan continued to cover drive his way past 50, until he went back to a short ball that took an unfriendly bounce, hitting him on the pads straight in front. This brought to a close a potentially match winning innings at 60.

Charlie Rose and Perry then set about taking the score past 200. The pair putting extreme pressure on the fielding side with multiple twos and threes and continuously cashing in on loose balls. Drinks came and went at 36 overs with the score at 3/175, requiring a further 84 for victory in the final 14 overs, the two reset and began to resume the chase. The pair pushed one too many quick singles, Rose was run out for 40 after some brilliant fielding and a touch and go decision from the umpire. The score now 4-194.

The hero from last week’s chase, Rob Lavery, joined Perry in the middle, however this did not last long, with Perry caught at mid-on shortly after for 36. Meaningful contributions from Lavery, Mannix and Fursman all helped set the Bears up for one final push, with Jack Thomas and Oli Millar at the crease. The pair took the score to 8/244 heading into the final over, needing 15 for victory.

A boundary through mid-wicket off the first ball by Millar give the Bears hope that the victory was still alive, pushing singles and twos for the remainder of the over left 5 runs required off the last ball. The pair could only muster another 2 to finish off, leaving the innings closed at 8/256.

There was some conjecture around the final ball, whether Blacktown had 6 outside the inner circle, however the umpires quashed this, and the result was final. It was a mammoth effort by the Bears to get within two runs of victory, however there were plenty of execution factors throughout the day that could have contributed to a victory.

The Bears look to bounce back next week, with a tough challenge awaiting, a match up with local rivals Manly at Mike Pawley.

All in all, another heart stopper for Fifth Grade, who may soon be aptly named the Cardiac Kids...

Round 2 Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup: UTS North Sydney v Easts at Waverley Oval

Abandoned due to rain

Poidevin Grey Shield (T20) Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Easts at Waverley Oval

Abandoned due to rain

U18 Brewer Shield Round 2: UTS North Sydney v Northern Districts at Asquith Oval

Abandoned due to rain

Media courtesy of Tony Johnson, David James, Sarah Berman, Adam Cavenor, Malcolm Trees and team captains.