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Uni have capitalised on their Day 1 outings against Hawkesbury, securing wins in 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s, to extend their lead in the Club Championship to 92 points. Here’s how it happened:

Resuming play at 1/7 in pursuit of Hawkesbury’s 313, 1st Grade found themselves in strife after a difficult first hour – heading to drinks at 4/19. Damien Mortimer continued his form with the bat to partner with Tim Cummins in a 116-run stand – Mortimer striking a mature 74 and Cummins, 52. However, their simultaneous dismissals sparked an uncharacteristic middle order collapse for Uni, eventually being bowled out for 167 in their first loss of the season.

Having already ensured 1st innings victory on Day 1, 2nd Grade resumed play eyeing an outright, with Hawkesbury 0/4 at the first ball. A frustratingly patient opening stand from the visitors threatened to thwart this plan, before Charlie Cassel (2-45) struck to spark energy again. The middle overs belonged to Kieran Tate, who combined pace with accuracy to plough through Hawks’ top and middle order, on his way to a brilliant 6-32 from 14.4 overs. Max Hope swooped to clean up the tail shortly after lunch, leaving Uni 124 to chase with overs in hand. Uni obliged with little trouble as Steve Hobson dispatched the opening bowlers on his way to a quickfire 33, while Jack Hill amassed 39, before Varun George scored 48 not out to secure outright victory 2-down. Congratulations to 2nd Grade on an outstanding performance and yet undefeated season; they head into the final round before Christmas in first place – a game clear of Bankstown in second.

With Uni’s score of 3/312, captain Ben Larkin declared before play as 3rd Grade primed themselves for an afternoon of bowling. Henry Clark continued his form with the ball, as he paired with Matt Moran to have the hosts 2/7 early. The pace of Clark and nagging length of Moran proved too difficult a combination for the Hawks’ batsmen, as two claimed the tidy figures of 3/18 and 3/15 respectively. Then, the spin of Nahir Ghandi rattled the middle and lower order, as he claimed a rousing 3/12 from his 9 overs to bowl Hawkesbury out for 121 – securing comfortable victory in the 47th over.

Back at St Paul’s Oval, 4th Grade made sure of their dominant position, bowling Hawkesbury out for 113 after having them 6/84 overnight. Aidan Peek utilised classical swing and seam to lead the way with figures of 4-30, and was well supported by the pace of Brody Frost who claimed 3-58 from his 14 overs. With some time remaining, Uni batted again for 26 overs – where the stylish Will Masojada accumulated 55 – before the captains shook hands with the Students having completed a comprehensive 1st innings victory.

With Hawkesbury 0/6 at last Saturday’s close in chase of 5th Grade’s 292, Uni required a disciplined bowling approach on Day 2. Shehan Canagasingham struck early and often to rattle the hosts’ top order on his way to a well-earned 3-28, before a middle order resistance did little more than threaten the prospect of a draw. However, the persistent length of skipper Andrew Wilkinson was rewarded, as he claimed 4-25 to have Hawkesbury on the ropes, before Azhar Saeed sealed the deal in the final overs of the day – Hawkesbury eventually bowled out for 190 for a 98-run win to the Students.

Uni Triumph in Ghost Town

With an eye to the National T20 Tournament next year, and a conference finals berth at the SCG, 1st Grade took to the challenge of facing a strong Campbelltown outfit at Raby with aplomb.

Winning the toss and batting on a slow wicket, Hayden Kerr picked up where he left off as he struck 24 off 15 to get the Students of to a good start. The middle overs proved a more difficult period, as only Nicky Craze (29 off 28) and Damien Mortimer (26 off 26) managed significant contributions as Uni posted 9/130 from their 20 overs.

With an outstanding bowling performance required, the Uni bowlers did just that as Devlin Malone (2-20) and Liam Robertson (2-18) proved difficult to dispatch. And with the pace trio of Joe Kershaw, Dugald Holloway and Ben Joy being highly economical, the Ghosts were unable to come close, eventually finishing 8/114 from their 20 overs. This victory sees the Students face up against Penrith at 2.30PM at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Sunday, in pursuit of a spot in the grand-final at 6.30PM that same night.

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