Tigers’ hard work pays off

North Sportsman’s continued its impressive form by wrapping up a 61-run victory over South Gambier in the penultimate round of the 2020-21 Hoggies Wines Barber Shield on Saturday. Despite defending a large target of 295 at Marist Park, the Tigers were forced to toil as the Demons fought hard.

But the home side’s attack eventually prevailed to register a fourth consecutive first innings win. With a tall order in front of them, South’s openers Adam Kuhl and Alex Loupos showed plenty of application at the crease.

After three boundaries were scored in the first six overs, not another was struck off the bat until the 24th when Loupos brought up the 50-run stand. But three balls later Kuhl was forced to depart after a gutsy 14 off 70.

Key-wicket David Somerfield strolled out at number three and was busy from ball one. Loupos also picked up the pace and South was looking solid at 1/86. However, Declan Kenny was lethal and put the Demons back under pressure.

Firstly, he ended Loupos’ gritty 37 before an outside edge of Josh Thompson’s bat also found its way into Brad Stafford’s gloves. After Thompson’s 10-ball duck, South needed someone to support Somerfield, who was undeterred by the setback and raced along to an important half century.

At the other end Michael Sims dropped anchor and the duo gave the Demons some breathing room. But the tall left arm pace of Young proved too much for Somerfield. Once he fell for 54, North pounced on an opportunity to break the game open.

Young also got Sims caught behind for 10 off 55 balls, while South captain James Dunn was dismissed shortly after. Suddenly the Demons needed a miracle at 6/142 and the win proved elusive.

But the visitors managed to land some psychological blows before stumps was called. Nicholas Seager (38), Matthew Bowering (31*) and Jakob Opie (18) defied the Tigers’ attack to bat out the remaining overs with dignity.

South finished at 9/233 with Kenny collecting 3/51, while Kayne Badman claimed two scalps alongside North captain Nick McInerney and Young. McInerney highlighted the efforts of his bowlers after a tough, but rewarding day in the field.

“We were happy to get the win after a hard-fought day,” he said. “South took it up to us, but it was nice to peg them back with a couple of tight spells because they were going quite well at one stage.” The Tigers’ triumph was setup by Michael Johnston’s opening-day century, but McInerney revealed it only occurred due to an unfortunate chain of events.

“Michael only got the call up to open the batting on the first morning because Jake (Schutz) pulled out sick, so for him to show so much experience and class was super impressive,” McInerney said. “It was a great knock because he took the opportunity with both hands and navigated us through the first day.”

With one round to go and a finals berth all-but secured, McInerney hopes his men can extract revenge from West Gambier away from home this weekend. “Last time we played West they bowled us out for 42, so we want to respond and play some good cricket leading into finals,” he said.

The Demons on the other hand face a do-or-die battle with Penola at Blue Lake Sports Park.

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