It didn’t take players long to brush off the cobwebs in the newly-formed Cessnock and Singleton Districts Cricket Association (CSDCA).
Following the opening round of action at the weekend, PCH medium pacer Abe Jones and Bellbird in-swing bowler Jack Swift claimed hat-tricks in their respective fixtures.
The former cleaned up the Creeks’ tail at Howe Park on Saturday 7 October, with the second, third and fourth deliveries of his fifth over.
Jones finished with 4-15 in the first grade encounter.
Then, at Singleton’s Cook Park No. 3, Swift knocked over the leg stump of his three opponents in consecutive balls, of his sixth over, in the “seconds”.
It capped off a great day as he picked up 6-42 against Glendon/PCH.
Although the Coalfields Cup had been operational for three seasons, at the top level, the boards of both Cessnock and Singleton recently decided to combine the formats in all grades.
In 2023/24, firsts will include seven sides – Greta-Branxton, Piranhas/Bellbird, PCH, Glendon, Valley/JPC, Creeks and Wine Country.
Seconds and thirds each consist of eight teams, while five line-ups are expected to battle it out in fourths.
In first grade, new joint venture Piranhas/Bellbird kicked off its journey in style by thumping defending premiers Valley/JPC by 102 runs at Carmichael Park.
The home side amassed 248, although being bowled out inside 35 overs.
Matt Hopley ran out of partners in his unbeaten 86, an entertaining innings that included half a dozen boundaries and the same amount of maximums.
Co-Piranha Fletcher Sharpe was just as impressive with 66, with Bellbird stalwarts Rob Drage (41) and Jason Orr (14) timing the ball crisply.
In a tough day for the Valley/JPC bowlers, Archit Bele was their pick with 3-35, with Tristan Muir (2-22 off 4) and Hayden Moorcroft (2-38 off 6) collecting a couple of wickets each.
Plenty of visiting batsmen made starts in reply, but someone really needed to push on to a big century for them to pose a real threat.
Isaac Barry led the way with 44, Clint Ratatagia made 37, with Brandon Carmen (16), cult hero Mewa Jeetarwal (14) and Hayden Moorcroft (13no) making starts.
Hopley completed a man-of-the-match performance with 4-40, with co-skippers Luke Sweeney (2-23 off 6) and Joey Main (2-33 off 6) picking up a brace of scalps.
Last year’s runner-up Greta-Branxton overcame a shaky start to come away with a convincing 109-run victory over Wine Country at Allandale.
The Blues recovered from 4-52 to post 236, with Connor Thomson timing the ball sweetly for 82.
He shared in a match-winning 109-run fifth wicket partnership with Jace Lawson (57), who settled into the supporting role.
Josh Dagg and Reuben Andrews made 17 apiece, with double stick batsman Alex Walking returning to the top grade with 16 not out.
Making his debut for Wine Country, Rocky Singh was the pick of their attack with 4-44.
Rob Sidebottom (2-45 off 7.3) and Luke Jeans 2-38 off 8) also took wickets.
The Wood Ducks were dismissed inside 32 overs in reply for 127, with opener Matt Lightfoot (43) and skipper Jason Ambrose (30no) the home side’s best two batsmen.
Patrick Andrews bagged 6-20 for the Blues, with Lawson completing a fine all-round match with 2-9.
In the final outing, PCH proved too strong for Creeks by five wickets at Howe Park on the back of Jones’ hat-trick.
Creeks was skittled for 76 batting first, with Nathan Stapleford (22), Lucas Gentle (17) and skipper Blake Cook (11) making starts.
Jones (4-15 off 5), Mason Knodler (3-23 off 6) and Barton Jones (2-28 off 6) shared the poles for PCH.
PCH did not get it all its own way in reply, taking 22 overs to achieve the small target, losing five wickets along the way.
Skipper Jackson Cox took on the new ball and led the way with 27, with Jake Daniel (14no) and Knodler (10no) doing enough to get last year’s preliminary finalists home.
Dan Tracey (2-14 off 5) and Stapleford (2-18 off 8) were Creeks’ best bowlers.
- Mark Bercini
- Greta-Branxton 8/157 (Wayne Chandler 88no, Noah McNamara 25, Jamie McNamara 18, Wayne Harris 3-18 off 8, Johan Briedenhann 3-43 off 7) defeated Wine Country 10/156 (Wayne Harris 35, Martin Ashton 27, Ben Priest 26, Dave Plumridge 25, Fazel Khan 4-17 off 8, Pat Nugent 3-13 off 6, James Halpin 2-24 off 4)
- Denman 2/112 (Hunter Ball 40no, Jackson Ball 24no, Greg Cooper 2-24 off 3, Chad Solman 1-22 off 5) defeated Creeks 10/111 (Jim Morris 29, Chad Solman 12, Hayden Bourke 12, Eden Andrews 2-12 off 5, Jackson Ball 2-10 off 3)
- Bellbird 5/214 (Shannon Attewell 78no, Garry Kirby 55, Stef Durie 32no, Clancy Cameron 2-35 off 8) defeated Glendon/PCH 10/170 (Marcus Downes 96no, Jack Turner 19, Charlie Knight 13, Lyle Banks 12, Jack Swift 6-42 off 7 inc hat-trick, Pat Cagney 2-33 off 8)
- JPC 10/191 (Greg Dann 74, Andrew Knox 69, Kaiden Howson 4-30 off 8, Karandeep Maramreddy 2-3 off 2, Brandon Zechel 2-32 off 5) defeated Piranhas10/68 (Jett Lantry 20, Jack Stoker 10, Brad Driscoll 3-21 off 8, Thomas Pearce 3-7 off 4, Rhys 2-0 off 2)
- Hotel Cessnock 8/187 (Ashton Williams 48, Joel Butterfield 30, Ethan Gunther 30, Ben Rowlands 22, Gavin Kronholm 20, Allan Murphy 5-20 off 8) defeated Denman 10/95 (Tony Graham 26, Anthony Worth 16, Peter Ball 13, Gavin Kronholm 4-18 off 7, Ethan Gunther 2-15 off 4)
- Wine Country 2/111 (Oscar Vaughan 44no, Craig Rees 40no, Lachlan Yule 2-14 off 4) defeated Greta-Branxton 10/107 (Nigel Charnock 46, Ben Lahey 21, Riley Rees 3-20 off 8, Craig Rees 3-15 off 6)
- Piranhas 8/167 (Michael Clark 57no, Andrew Beer 30, Max Clark 19no, Greg Thrift 3-17 off 8, Austin Maher 2-13 off 5) defeated JPC 10/116 (Austin Maher 29, Lachlan Fry 19, Daniel Thrift 16, Greg Thrift 14, Scott Burgess 6-35 off 8, Max Clark 2-15 off 4, Michael Clark 2-19 off 7)
- Valley defeated Bellbird by forfeit
- Wine Country 1/95 (David Crosdale 33no, Ethan Rauber 28no, Myles Crosdale 21, Aiden Bendeich 1-23 off 3) defeated Piranhas 10/94 (Aiden Bendeich 25, Glenn Kemp 20, Dean Campbell 15, Myles Crosdale 3-16 off 4, Matthew Hollis 2-5 off 5, Tim Shields 2-12 off 4)
- Hotel Cessnock 8/215 (Nick Wallace 56, Dylan Stoker 50, Matt Blake 24, Graham Stoker 23, Ian McCulloch 20, Harrison Ward 16, Liam Allanson 3-50 off 8, Henry Beverley 2-25 off 8) defeated Greta/Branxton 10/111 (Henry Beverley 37, Peter Watson 16, Jesse Rutter 13, Dylan Stoker 2-23 off 8, Karl Capararo 2-13 off 7, Wade Fullford 2-9 off 3, Sam Russell 2-18 off 3)
- Bye: Supporters
- First grade: Greta-Branxton 6, Piranhas/Bellbird 6, PCH 6, Glendon 0, Valley/JPC 0, Creeks 0, Wine Country 0
- Second grade: Denman 6, JPC 6, Bellbird 6, Greta-Branxton 6, Wine Country 0, Glendon/PCH 0, Piranhas 0, Creeks 0
- Third grade: Hotel Cessnock 6, Wine Country 6, Piranhas 6, Valley 6, Bellbird 0, JPC 0, Greta-Branxton 0, Denman 0
- Fourth grade: Wine Country 6, Hotel Cessnock 6, Supporters 0, Greta-Branxton 0, Piranhas 0
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