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Robinson Services Premier League Round-up (04-07-2022)
Robinson Services

Jonny Morton  

After a rain-affected final pre-split round of Robinson Services Premier League fixtures, the same teams that occupied the top-six spots before the day's play remained in situ to book their place in Group A.

With the introduction of a split in the top-flight for this season where the top-six forms one group before playing each other once and the bottom four finishers making up Group B, which will include home and away fixtures at each opponent, the stakes were high on Saturday afternoon. The likes of leaders Lisburn, CIYMS and Waringstown knew their places were secure, and they are joined by Carrickfergus, North Down and CSNI after all three won their respective matches.

North Down's home clash with Woodvale was essentially a winner-takes-spot in Group A scenario and the home side stepped up when it really mattered to record a 96-run win (DLS). Captain Alistair Shields (91) and Ani Chore (91) have developed one of the most effective opening partnerships over the past couple of seasons and they proved their class once again by sharing a stand of 188 to set the platform for a winning total. Neil Brand (38) also chipped in with important runs to help the Comber outfit reach 272/6, despite a late flurry of wickets for Ruhan Pretorius (3-40).

Woodvale were never able to put on a meaningful partnership that would allow them to threaten North Down's healthy total with Tom Mayes (2-15) dismissing both openers and when Pretorius (68) was caught and bowled by Shields (5-23) – who capped off a superb all-round performance – the Ballygomartin Road side collapsed from 124-3 to 161 all out.

CSNI occupy the crucial sixth position after bowling Cregagh out for just 55 with Luke Georgeson (3-8) causing early damage that put the hosts in a position they could never recover from. Adam Leckey (2-9), Troy Johnson (2-14) and Matthew Foster (2-19) were also amongst the wickets before a serene run chase secured a nine-wicket win with Johnson (28*) and debutant Seb Yeates (18*) seeing the game out within 10 overs.

At the top of the table, Lisburn took a step closer to a potentially remarkable season by opening up an eight-point gap with a 60-run victory (DLS) over Instonians, but they didn't have it all their own way. Faiz Fazal (54) again played a starring role with the bat but a mixture of Daniel Rose (5-22) and Ben Rose (4-35) helped limit Lisburn to 154 all out. Captain Callum Atkinson spoke during the week about the importance of middle and late order runs, and this was once again a prime example of Lisburn's fighting spirit as Josh Manley (30) struck five boundaries against his former side to keep his current one in the mix.

Manley (1-16) then picked up the first wicket before handing over to Matthew Humphreys (3-25) and Fazal (3-13) as the visitors fell from 60/3 to 94 all out in their pursuit of 154 from a revised 47 overs. Lisburn have put themselves in pole position for a 14th senior league title and first since 1993 with only five games separating them from a piece of history.

Waringstown are part of a four-team chasing group that all sit on 24 points and they improved their record to six wins from nine matches after a convincing 160-run (DLS) triumph over Cliftonville Academy. The success was set up by the batters as Jamie Gibson (96) and Morgan Topping (66) put on a third-wicket stand of 102 after the Villlagers had found themselves sitting on 29/2 heading into the 10th over. Graham Hume – who could be in line to make his Ireland debut next week against New Zealand – ensured no momentum was lost by striking 36 from 29 balls as Waringstown pushed up to 240/5 from their 42 overs.

It was then over to Ross Allen (6-30) with the ball as the spinner ran through Cliftonville Academy's middle order and single-handedly reduced the Belfast side from 34/3 to 52/8 before collecting the wicket of Matthew McCord (42), who has been impressive despite a tough campaign back in the top-flight for his team. Kyle McCallan (1-17) finished the job off and the defending champions will now have their sights set on Lisburn as they look to pick up another league crown.

Carrickfergus picked up their fourth consecutive league win to comfortably seal a spot in Group A due to beating CIYMS by 14 runs (DLS). They set a total of 250/3 and the story of their innings was two hard-hitting contributions from Jeremy Lawlor (83* off 62) and Jacques Snyman (78 off 64).

In reply, CI opener Ross Adair (54) continued his superb form and shared a partnership of 82 with Chris Dougherty (35) before he was caught off the bowling of Alex Haggan (2-20). CIYMS had been set a revised target of 204 from 28 overs and the risk was always going to be losing frequent wickets while trying to chase quick runs, and the Carrick bowlers held their nerve to secure another win.

Robinson Services Premier League