While Cessnock continued its journey towards the decider, Singleton bowed out of the John Bull Shield race at the weekend.
The Coalfields representative cricket team moved closer to securing a fourth consecutive final, thanks to an emphatic 137-run win over Newcastle Suburban Districts at East End Oval on Sunday 10 December.
In a replay of last year’s epic tie against the same opponents in the finale, Cessnock shrugged off the disappointment of losing the trophy on averages by thumping the Rebels in style.
The hosts batted first and their shaky start to the innings was resurrected on the back of half centuries by Chris Murray (60) and Jason Orr (53).
Skipper Joey Butler battled hard for his 35, too.
Then the Cessnock tail wagged nicely, courtesy of Luke Jeans (33) and Zac Kronholm (26no).
Greta’s Reuben Andrews was the other batsman to make a start with 14, allowing the team to close its innings with a healthy 248.
Newcastle lost wickets at regular intervals in reply, with a telling moment in the match being the scalp of their skipper Mitch Kroehnert for just 14 in a Piranhas combination wicket caught by Matt Hopley, bowled Sweeney.
The Rebels were forever behind the eight-ball and eventually all out in the 21st over for 111.
All Cessnock seamers bowled well, with Hopley (3-11 off 3), Sweeney (3-31 off 3.3), Patrick Andrews (2-19 off 5) and Kronholm (1-50 off 7) doing the damage.
The news wasn’t so good for Singleton.
After winning the toss, and electing to bat, the outfit could only muster a modest 169.
That was mainly due to a 93-run partnership between Jack Turner (53) and Daniel Storey (57).
Maitland then ran down the target in little time, via a blistering 131 not out off 78 balls from Tenambit/Morpeth new recruit Tobias Van De Heever.
He proved a class above in stroke play.
Wicket takers for Singleton were Hayden Moorcroft (2-53 off 5) and Cooper Bailey (2-49 off 6.5) with no bowler spared in the onslaught from Van De Heever.
With a bye in hand, the side’s John Bull campaign is over.
Cessnock now needs to defeat the winless Upper Hunter at Scone in the final round on 14 January to book its spot in the big dance.
The other telling fixture that weekend will see Maitland host Newcastle Suburban Districts, with the winner of that match ensuring a berth in the final.
- with Mark Bercini
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