University continued their late season resurgence with a dominant display against Wests on an intriguing day of Illawarra cricket.
After struggling through the early parts of the season, Uni has entered what captain Mitch Calder described last week as must-win territory and the side is well on the way to a second straight win.
With the goal of outright victory in mind, Calder sent Wests in after winning the toss and the aggressive move paid immediate dividends, with Rhys Voysey bowling Tyler Edwards for a two-ball duck.
From there, Uni took wickets at regular intervals, with Wests bowled out for 72. Bailey Edwards top scored with 18 off 85 balls. The opening batsman watched on as he saw seven batting partners depart throughout the day.
Voysey finished with figures of 2/32. All-rounder Mitch Hearn collected 3/23, while Calder chipped in with a handy 3/3 off four overs, including the vital wicket of Edwards.
“The Figtree wicket always does do a bit early in the day,” Calder said. “From our point of view, we need an outright victory at some point to get us into finals, so we played some aggressive, forward cricket.
“We tried to create some chances, what we did against Keira last week we carried it on to this week. We just worked hard to create chances and it worked a treat.”
Hearn and Calder also impressed with the bat, moving Uni into a dominant position.
Calder came to the crease with his side at 3/62 and he combined with Hearn to put on an unbeaten 109-run partnership. It was a case of contrasting innings, however, with Hearn blitzing his way to 72* off 78 balls and Calder grinding to 38* off 71. Uni were 3/171 at stumps.
“Mitch is hitting them better than anyone in the competition. He’s striking them well and it’s great to see him getting some rewards.
“Given we’ve already got first-innings points, we’ll be aiming for outright next week. If we can get an outright this match, it will put us in pretty good stead to stay in and around the top four.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, third-placed Keira played host to fourth-placed Wollongong, with both teams desperate to secure a finals spot.
Wollongong won the toss and chose to bat, however it was Keira who immediately claimed the upper hand. The visitors were bowled out for 190 thanks to a five-wicket-haul to Troy Coleman.
The Keira openers then survived a tricky 13-over spell late in the day to reach 0/35 at stumps. Northern Districts was also fighting hard to keep their finals hopes alive against Port Kembla. A patient Jonathan Fowles innings led the Butchers to 8dec/171. Fowles scored 52 off 140 balls, while Joshua Bond contributed an important 34* late in the innings.
The late declaration gave Northern Districts six overs to claim a breakthrough and Jamal Banfield delivered, removing Jahangir Jadoon for one. Port Kembla will resume next Saturday at 1/7.
At 3/86, Dapto hold the ascendancy in their clash with Corrimal after the Cougars were bowled out for 119.