Cats’ clutch win

By Daniel Hughes

Finley dug deep to cement their spot in the Murray Valley Cricket Association Division One finals on Saturday night.

The twilight game against Barooga was on a knife's edge, with a four wicket haul from Paul Massingham helping the Cats to a 25 run win.

Finley's captain Murray Urquhart lost the toss and the Cats were sent in to bat first, with the wicket soft from the rainfall from the night before.

The Cat's top order remained unchanged with Matt Wilson and last week's centurion Russell Anderson sent out to face the opening bowlers.

Just three balls in Wilson found himself walking back to the change rooms after floating one up in the covers off the bowling of Luke Collyer (1/17 off seven).

This brought Dan Hughes to the crease who put together 23 runs in a short stint before he chopped the ball onto his stumps to have the Cats at 2/40.

Anderson continued to stay at the crease despite having four lives granted from dropped catches throughout.

Ben Spence came in at second drop to put in a quick nine runs before he fell to a caught behind off the bowling of Caleb Goesch (1/16 off six).

Runs were few and far between with the tight Barooga bowling attack, holding the Cats to only 3/60 at the half way point.

Needing to put on as many runs as possible, Anderson continued to keep the strike rotating as Urquhart stepped in with a slashers mentality.

Fortunately for the Cats this paid off as their captain put on a quick 30 runs with two ‘fours’ and one ‘six’ that flew towards the Barooga dressing rooms.

After lifting his head too early and seeing the ball rocket into his stumps, Urquhart left for the change rooms, bringing on Paul Massingham.

Massingham (35 not out) had an immediate impact at the crease blasting two ‘fours’ and two ‘sixes’ that flew into the car park in a Marcus Stoinis-like batting display.

A mix-up between Massingham and Anderson as they turned back for a second run saw Anderson run out at the non strikers end on 48 late in the innings.

With only two overs left Adnan Malik came to the crease and with the pressure on to score runs, a sharp whip of the bat sent the ball bouncing past square leg for four.

In a last ditch effort on the last ball of the innings, Malik (seven) was run out, the Cats setting an admirable 6/162.

Opening the bowling was paceman Bailey Coombs (1/27 off five) who used the white ball to his advantage, swinging it and deviating it, wreaking havoc for the Barooga openers, Richard Lavery and Collyer.

Short bowling from Coombs and Darcy Webb (0/24 off four) proved costly to the Cats’ run defence, as Barooga jumped to a quick 26 runs in a matter of overs before Coombs finally struck.

A darting pace ball left the bails flying through Collyer (five) over wicketkeeper Spence, bringing the young and resilient Nathan Gossayn (13) to the crease.

The run chase was looking steady for Hawks until some economic bowling from Wilson (2/24 off eight) and Anthony King (0/27 off eight) dried up the runs.

Wilson struck the stumps directly off his pace bowling, taking the prized wicket of Lavery for 46, Gossayn falling next to Wilson's dangerous swing bowling to have the Hawks 3/91.

At the break Barooga were still looking comfortable with danger man Jon O'Dwyer (29) dropped early on in gully by Urquhart.

Hpwever. a run out throw from Adnan Malik at long-on to bowler Wilson, opened up the Hawks’ tail end swinging momentum Finley's way.

With tactical fielding to O'Dwyer, offering an easy single to get the in-form batsman off-strike, the Urquhart and Massingham went to work.

Sitting at 5/132, the Hawks were in striking distance to the Cats’ 162 total.

Within the space of five runs, Massingham struck four times, narrowly missing out on the game ball with some pinpoint bowling from Urquhart who took Sam Poole out for a duck to have the Hawks, all out for 137.

The Cats’ now sit comfortably in the third spot on the ladder, facing off against the eighth placed Tocumwal in their third straight away game this Saturday.

The Cats’ Division Two side's finals hopes took a massive blow when they played at home on Saturday.

It was a tough day for Finley, whose batting order collapsed faster then a Jenga set as they lost to Katunga by nine wickets.

Captain Ryan Donkin (15 runs) went in to bat with Harrison King (five), and the pair were quick to get off the mark.

The fall of Donkin however, led to a collapse from the whole side, that included two attempts for hattricks narrowly missed.

The Cats were all out for 45 in 17 overs, including four ducks.

A short run chase from Katunga took just 14 overs at the fall of just one wicket.

The Cats play Katamatite in their final game of the season at home this Saturday.

Despite sitting seventh on the ladder, a win could see Finley catapult to fourth on the ladder, depending on other results.