Round 10 in Whyalla A Grade cricket was very important in terms of shaping the final 3. The winner of the North and Central match would have that club a foot in the door for the automatic Grand Final berth, whilst South needed to win to keep any mathematical hope of making the final 3.
Roopena 9/125 (A. Woolford 47; N. Ahmat-Watkins 4/21, B. Mullighan 4/28) Defeated South Whyalla 10/124 (P. McArthur 51, C. Davis 25; S. Beaton 5/30 inc. hattrick)
Before this match, Stuart Beaton had 2 recorded overs in WCA A Grade cricket and by the end of the thrilling fixture, he had played a pivotal role in steering the roos past the South Whyalla Demons, cementing 3rd place and taking career best figure of 5/30 including a hattrick.
After a close inspection of the pitch, Roopena decided to bowl first, backing their bowlers to restrict South's to a small total to chase down. This did not look like a good decision with the Demons in a good position at 1/51 with Davis and McArthur making light work of the bowling attack. Coming on first change, Beaton looked to change things up, picking up Chris Davis, John Davis and Myhlls Smith-Gurr in his second over, suddenly leaving Souths in a vulnerable position at 4/52. Simon Trezise paired with McArthur, putting on 25, however McArthur was struggling for regular partners to support him throughout the innings. He finished on 51, however, his effort, which was the top score for the weekend, allowed South to post a competitive score of 124. Beaton picked up a further 2 wickets to leaving him with 5/30 with Allan Rivett picking up 2/3 as the next highest wicket taker.
124 would prove to be a tricky target on a tricky pitch, especially with Roos without key batsmen Fiebig, Johns and Nielson, they would need others to stand up and be counted. South's bowling brigade of McArthur, Trezise and Mullighan would need to dig deep without Turner and Sawtell to help.
Veteran Allan Woolford stood up for the Roos when he needed to, leading the chase with a fine 47, which helped them get to 87 before the interesting business started. At 6/86, things looked relatively comfortable, however, suddenly at 7/87 it became a bit more difficult. Grund held his nerve and got the Roos over the line with a couple of boundaries which officially ended South's finals chances.
New player, Ahmat-Watkins, who will do his best work with the oval ball was solid with 4/21 and Brendon Mullighan returned for pleasing figures of 4/28.
North Whyalla 10/91 (M. Quist 30; J. Croft 4/18, J. Ackland 2/3) defeated Central Whyalla 10/90 (J. Lee 27; S. Lewis 3/19, M. Quist 3/18, R. Parker 2/13)
North and Central are clear top of the table and odds on to meet each other in their third consecutive Grand Final. This would be an important match as with the loss of Westlands, the four team competitive guarantees the top place finisher after the minor round and automatic Grand Final berth. With North one clear, a win would mean they would require one win from their last two matches to book that spot, where if Central won, it would bring them level on wins, but having a much greater percentage, North would rely on the Roosters dropping one of their last two. In short, it amounted to a very valuable 2 points for each team.
North captain, Matt Quist won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch that provided difficulties for the batsman on the previous day. Chad Clothier looked to continue his intent from the previous game, however, he was caught in the gully for 9 of the bowling of Daniel Collison. Sam Lewis joined Quist and the pair looked to build a solid platform for the North battling line up to hopefully cash in at the back end of the innings, however when Lewis got out for 19, the rest of the Magpies quickly followed. Jayden Croft came on first change and bowled consistent line and length, swinging the ball both ways, forcing the batsmen to be indecisive. Brad Smith built pressure from the other end, bowling with a 10/1 field, not giving the batsmen anything to hit on the leg side. Quist top scored for the Magpies with 30, however Croft was the star with 4/18 off his 9.1 overs.
Central have made a living out of bowling teams out and chasing low totals. They changed up their batting order looking to get quick runs at the top and demoralise the magpies bowler's spirits. Jayden Croft slashed one to second slip of Parker in the 3rd over, only to see Dave Miller take a remarkable catch, putting the early pressure back on the Roosters. Jarrad Dunbar looked comfortable, however short spells between Lewis, Parker and Miller kept the pressure on. A switch of ends saw Lewi come back down breeze and it worked immediately, quickly removing Dunbar and then league leading run-scorers Josh Ackland and Brad Smith, putting the Magpies back in contention at 4/29. At 5/71, the game was looking out of reach for the Magpies, however, they dug deep and removed O'Halloran, Isaac Smith and the key wicket of Collison to have them 8/74. Parker was reintroduced to get the job done, however, Daniel Collison took it upon himself to steer the ship, getting the score to 9/84 before Bartel was skittled for 2. with 7 to get and 1 wicket remaining, the game was on a knife's edge. Collison farmed the strike, playing very intelligently, taking responsibility for the run-chase.
Collison played a forceful stroke to deep-cover for a 2, which brought the score to 90, with one run needed. The field was brought up and Collison looked to hit the ball over mid-wicket only to hit it straight to Miller. This marked the fourth close finish out of four fixtures between the two teams. It was unfortunate for Collison to have the match finish in that fashion he had played with such maturity and strong temperament.
The win now see's the Magpies sit two games clear on top of the ladder, however, with all games being close this season, anything will be possible come finals.