Coming off a couple of losses and a draw, we really needed to get back into the winners circle. However, we knew the Penrith club were going to be tough after a strong win in their the previous match.
Matt Todd supports the quick bowlers as they took poles
The coin favoured us in batting first and we made a great start with Ryan and Damon at the helm. Damon was picking off the loose balls and Ryan was again showing great patience. Tragically, Ryan copped a short ball on the thumb, which more or less rules him out for the season after undergoing a procedure inserting a plate with 5 screws.
At the time we all thought he was soft and should have played through the pain...
To add insult to injury this break in play saw the panthers pounce taking advantage of some poor communication between batsmen with two quick run outs. Having survived the two run outs, Damon was at the mercy of some sledging (as you could imagine) and with wickets continuing to fall around him he remained in control was rewarded with a 50.
Dave Monaghan and Aaron Crofts 'race' for more wickets
With the score at 6 for 104 (7 including Ryan's retired hurt), a patient but vital partnership between David and Glen added 69 runs to the total and with the 'most improved player from last year' Patty Rice joining David to add another 44 bringing our total up to a competitive level (although we still felt it was below a par score on a pretty flat wicket).
With Toddy and Patty seeing off the final overs of the day and 218 on the board, the team was hopeful of some quick fire runs on day 2 followed by some early wickets.
The man. The legend. Mark Harvey.
What a clubman!
We suspect he's had more hours in the field than almost anyone else this season. And all as a substitute.
Unfortunately, neither of the things we were hopeful of transpired. Patty was adjudged caught behind from the umpire as he padded one through to the keeper and being given out caught behind (although I reckon the balance of decisions probably went in our favour this round at least). I'm sure Penrith feel the same way – all we really hope for is to achieve a fair and an enjoyable competition.
But now back to the game ... Penrith with 218 to get and the Stags hopeful of early wickets.
Early wickets did not come though and with a few indirect deliveries heading to the boundaries, the Panthers appeared to be comfortable and on their merry way.
It was the first ball of David's second spell, which according to Shane changed directions 2 or 3 times, found a gap between bat and pad, bowling the more aggressive opener. This brought about a classic 5th Grade collapse, with Aaron and David in a race for the most wickets (or so it seemed).
Damon Livermore acknowledges the support on the balcony at Beauchamp after reaching 50
A partnership of tight bowling saw 5 wickets fall in as many overs and all of a sudden what was a comfortable position for the Panthers became one which they found themselves licking their paws.
Knowing all too well that rolling through the tail of oppositions is not an easy task, we went about it using the same formula of patient line and length bowling. With reward, we bowled them out in the 52nd over for 118.
With 23 overs left in the day, 99 times out of 100 both teams would call it a day and enjoy a cold drink. For some unknown reason and you would have to say not in the spirit of the game, Penrith decided against the cold drink, against an early trip back west, and against any likelihood of changing the result of the game to continue ...
Ryan Tullia was in sparkling form before breaking his thumb
So what happened next in this 23 overs doesn't actually matter so I won't comment.
In summary, we grabbed 6 points with both hands. Whilst we have some work to do with our batting to ensure we don't lose wickets in clumps the positive with our batting is two games in a row we have seen through 70+ overs, which in previous seasons was almost unheard of.
More of 'Reg' in glorious form as he set up the Stags' innings
Our bowling continues to improve, with wickets being shared. I'd say we still have a way to improve if we are to see ourselves in the top 6 by season's end, particularly how we bowl in combinations.