Royals make finals pitch after beating County

Headshot of Cameron Newbold
Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Royals' Matt Wolfe on his way to top scoring with 57.
Camera IconRoyals' Matt Wolfe on his way to top scoring with 57. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The ever-changing order of the top four in the Albany Cricket Association A-grade standings appears set to continue as three sides remain locked in an intense battle for two places in the upcoming finals with only two regular rounds remaining.

Round 15 on Saturday had plenty riding on it and Royals significantly boosted their hopes of playing finals for the first time since 2014-2015 as they beat North County for the second time this season.

After slipping back to fifth, a week after they held down third place, the Lions returned to the top four on the back of their emphatic bonus-point win over the Bulldogs at Turf East.

The Bulldogs were left to rue a number of dropped catches as substantial middle order contributions from Ted Batchelor, Matt Wolfe and Dylan Holt guided the Lions to a winning score.

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Royals' Mitch Green and North County's Craig Tonkin have an exchange.
Camera IconRoyals' Mitch Green and North County's Craig Tonkin have an exchange. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Wolfe made his best score of the season after a couple of scratchy early shots, sharing a 58-run partnership with Dylan Holt that anchored the Lions’ innings.

Nagging seamer Graeme Weinert snared the key wicket of Mitch Green on 26, but Ted Batchelor rode his luck to make a patient 33 before he fell to Fabian Bolton. But Wolfe and Holt steered their side towards a strong total batting first.

Wolfe made the most of his chances, smacking 57, and when he departed, the Lions were 4-152.

Holt kept going, however, as he made a large portion of the 56 runs added in the last 10 overs to lift his side to 6-197. He finished unbeaten on 47.

Royals' Ted Batchelor watches the ball through slips.
Camera IconRoyals' Ted Batchelor watches the ball through slips. Credit: Albany Advertiser

In difficult early conditions with a wet ball, Weinert bowled a tidy 10-over spell, taking 1-17, while Bolton was the only multiple wicket-taker with 2-45.

The Bulldogs were 1-15 after an early mix-up between Craig Tonkin and Brendan Dovey left the latter stranded.

Tonkin and Bulldogs captain Neil Ferreira were the key partnership as both passed 20, only to depart in the space of a couple of overs.

North County's Graeme Weinert bowled another tidy spell.
Camera IconNorth County's Graeme Weinert bowled another tidy spell. Credit: Albany Advertiser

Ferreira was trapped lbw by Bodhi Stubber on 24 and Tonkin was caught off his gloves on 22 to leave the Bulldogs 3-59.

Englishman Riecko Parker-Cole was the only other batsman to really get going, making 22, but the Lions’ bowling was superior.

Marcus Mellon snared 3-38 and Stubber was also impressive with 2-19 as the Lions ripped through the Bulldogs’ lower order to dismiss them for 106.

The Lions have won four of their past six games to become a genuine finals aspirant and the 91-run bonus-point result lifted them to fourth.

Royals' Ted Batchelor hits out.
Camera IconRoyals' Ted Batchelor hits out. Credit: Albany Advertiser

With a final-round bye, the Lions would virtually guarantee themselves a place in the finals with a win over Manypeaks in the penultimate round this Saturday.

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