Batsmen deliver goods
TERRANORA captain Leigh Baker rates Ballina premiership favourites after the southerners dominated the opening day of their final-round clash.
Ballina compiled an intimidating 6-326 before declaring late on day one of the two-day clash at Fripp Oval.
Terranora were 0-9 at stumps with Joe Clarke unbeaten on nine while fellow opener David Parkes had yet to score.
“They are a very good batting side; I haven't faced a side like that in a while,” Baker said yesterday.
“The top six are really strong and can hit big scores against anyone.
“We've played the other certain finalists (Cudgen and Casino), and would have to rate Ballina as favourites.”
After electing to bat, the Bears were in trouble early when Terranora fast bowler Leigh Baker (1-23) dismissed Josh Fleming (2) cheaply.
However, that was to be the only joy for the visitors with opener Tony Hordern blasting an unbeaten 103 before he retired hurt.
Nathan Anson was also in devastating form with the willow, surviving an early LBW appeal to compile an impressive 138.
He was eventually caught behind off the bowling of Luke McMahon (1-32) but by then the damage had been done.
“We had a big appeal turned down that looked plumb when Nathan was on single figures,” Baker said.
“It was a crucial blow and we struggled to get decisions after.
“The conditions definitely suited the batsmen, as the pitch was like a road and the wind was the strongest I've ever bowled into and so it was hard for any of the guys to find their rhythm.
“But then the outfield wasn't fast and they were still punishing balls to the boundary.”
Terranora will have to work hard when play resumes on Saturday, needing to secure a draw or better to keep alive their hopes of sealing an unlikely spot in the finals.
Terranora are currently fifth on the ladder, two points adrift of Tintenbar-East Ballina who are in a commanding position after day one of their clash with Marist Brothers at Oakes Oval.
Tintenbar were 0-15 at stumps after bundling the home side out for 159.
Third-placed Cudgen also appear to have a semi-finals berth wrapped up despite making hard work of their final-round encounter with Lismore Workers at Neilson Park.
Workers reached 244 at stumps after recovering from a middle-order collapse.
After a half-century from opener Daniel Rowlands steered the home side to 50 without loss, Workers crumbled to be 5-88 with Chris Moase (5-45) at his destructive best.
However, Jason Caught (52) steered Workers to a respectable score.
The same can't be said for Pottsville who were all out for 119 in the 39th over in their match with Southern Districts at Seabreeze Oval.
Southern were 7-173 at stumps while regular 'keeper Adam Rodgers was the best of the Pottsvillebowlers, finishing with 3-34.
At Rabjones Oval, South Tweed were in trouble at 3-47 in reply to Murwillumbah's 143.
Gareth Coombes was Murwillumbah's best with an unbeaten 28 while South Tweed captain Alex Rigby (3-18) was the best of the bowlers.
In other matches, Casino were 5-110 in response to Lennox Head's 130 at Meegan Crescent and Alstonville were 4-31 chasing Brunswick-Byron's 141 at Hill Park.