Top four search for points as finals approach   

NOWRA will resume tomorrow with plenty of work still to do if they are going to take first innings points in their clash with Bomaderry at Bomaderry Oval. 

While Bomaderry Oval is normally regarded as a batsman’s paradise, both teams struggled with the willow on day one.

 Despite the lack of runs, the battle of two of the competition’s big guns still looks set for an exciting finish with Nowra in pursuit of the total. 

Bomaderry made a reasonable start to their innings with openers Blake Munilla (26) and Jason Bell (27) seeing off the bowling early, while the ever reliable Paul Sawkins top scored with 31. 

But the home side suffered a middle-order batting collapse from which they never really recovered and were bowled out for 136. 

The bulk of the damage was done by Justin Weller (6/56) and Michael Coulter (3/26) who both continued their strong wicket-taking form this season. 

While 136 might have seemed like a modest total, Nowra did not fare much better when they got their turn in the middle. 

Nowra have already lost Sam Watts (3) Michael Coulter (1) Daniel Bryant (7) and Ben Lahene (9) and went into stumps at 4/48. 

Lewis O’Brien was the mainstay for Nowra and will resume on 19 along with Kurt Quinlan who is on one. 

Michael Lees has taken 2/17 for the home side, while openers John Muggleton and Jordan Matthews have a wicket each. 

While the top of the table Nowra should go in full of confidence, they still have plenty of runs to score in a game that could still go either way. 

One place where the result looks a little bit more clear cut is at Hanging Rock, where Batemans Bay are doing battle with Ulladulla United.

It had been a long initiation for Batemans Bay in the Shoalhaven competition, but now only a complete disaster will stop them from picking up first innings points for the first time. 

On a day where most of their top order failed to fire, Ulladulla had to settle for a first innings total of 105, with Wes Holmes (26) and Jason Linke (20) the only players to get a start. 

All of the Batemans Bay bowlers played a part in the demise of the Ulladulla batting order, with skipper Andrew Malcolm leading the way with 4/40, while Trent Innes (3/30) and Marc Stiller (2/8) also did some damage. 

With only a relatively small total to chase, Batemans Bay almost managed to get the job done before stumps and will resume tomorrow just seven runs behind at 4/98. 

Paul Gallen has played well so far and will be hoping to add to his score of 57, while Andrew Malcolm is the other not out batsman on two. 

While Batemans Bay are almost certain to take first innings honours, there is still a full day of cricket to be played.

Ulladulla will be hoping they can start over in the second innings and still have plenty of time to try to salvage something from the game.  

Someone who didn’t find runs as difficult to come by was Berry-Shoalhaven Heads skipper Kerry Penfold, who scored his first century of the season against North Nowra-Cambewarra at Berry Sporting Complex. 

Penfold’s innings of 111, plus some supporting roles from Chris McCarron (33) Brad Carey (31) and Dale Lovatt (28) helped Berry build a competitive first innings total of 242. 

Nick McDonald was the pick of the North’s bowlers with 5/58, while Dean Tyson did some damage with 2/46. 

While Norths might have hoped McDonald could repeat his heroics from last round with the bat, he will be watching their run chase from the pavilion after being dismissed by Ty Cherry for five before stumps. 

Cherry also claimed the wicket of Luke Hogan for a duck to leave them at 2/17 at stumps. 

Hugh Gillen (7 not out) and Graham Davidson (2 not out) will be hoping to get off to a positive start on day two and despite the loss of McDonald, Norths will take plenty of  confidence from last round, where they chased down 300 for victory against Batemans Bay. 

In the final game of the round, Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen will be hoping for a win to consolidate their place in the top four. 

Ex-Servos are 1/53 in pursuit of Bay and Basin’s total of 189 at Hayden Drexel Oval. 

Last week Heath Tan (40) and Jonathan Hill (38) were in good touch for Bay and Basin, while youngster Michael Labb brought up his second half-century of the season, making 52 not out. 

Shane Phillis (4/24) was the best of the Ex-Servos bowlers, while Lain Beckett and Chris Bramley took two wickets each. 

Beckett was also looking good with the bat after making it to 39 at stumps, but will be unable to add to his score as he is on Imparja Cup duties in Alice Springs. 

Ex-Servos have had many players step up for them this season and they will be confident their batting order can get the job done again tomorrow. 

This weekend also marks the return of the Twenty20 competition, with round two matches to be played on Sunday. 

There will be a double-header at Ulladulla Sports Park for Pool A, where Ex-Servos play Batemans Bay at 11am, which will be followed by Ulladulla against Bay and Basin at 2pm. 

Pool B matches will be played at Berry Sporting Complex, where the homeside play Norths first up, which will be followed by Bomaderry against Nowra. 

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