IN FULL STRIDE: Ben McMahon took five wickets for Lower Clarence in the side's win against Coffs Harbour on Monday. Photo: Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
IN FULL STRIDE: Ben McMahon took five wickets for Lower Clarence in the side's win against Coffs Harbour on Monday. Photo: Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner Debrah Novak

Lower Clarence into final after fighting success over Coffs

LOWER Clarence has guaranteed a berth in the 2013-14 North Coast Cricket Council final with a game to spare.

The representative side held on for a 19-run win against Coffs Harbour at Harwood Oval on Monday to continue its formidable run this season.

After reaching the VB Country Plate semi-finals for the second consecutive year, Lower Clarence is now two from two in the NCCC inter-district competition and plays Clarence River for the minor premiership at Ellem Oval this Sunday.

However, it took a lower-order revival led by Matt Farrell and a Ben McMahon five-wicket haul to ensure Lower Clarence's breathing space.

When Coffs Harbour's left-arm seamer Julian Hulbert clean bowled Geoff Simmons (0) third ball of the match it set the tone for the hosts as they slumped to 5 for 20.

"We just didn't see off the left-arm opener," Lower Clarence captain Luke Many said.

"He swung it around and bowled good balls.

"In most of our minds the game was over after half an hour. But when Matty Farrell went in he got behind the good balls and picked the right one to put away."

Hulbert took 5 for 18 and could have inflicted more damage had he not broken down during his sixth over.

Many (8) was dismissed with the score 6 for 38 which brought Farrell, who has scored plenty of runs opening the batting for Iluka this season, to the crease.

He soon lost Brandon Honeybrook (14) but then combined with Zac Honeybrook (13) and Harry Nicholson (20) to top score with 65.

Nicholson kept going and with Tim McMahon (9no) put on what would turn out to be a match-winning 30-run 10th wicket partnership to finish a respectable 173 off 47 overs.

"The young blokes have learnt the game's never finished til it's finished," the veteran Tim McMahon said.

"The longer a partnership goes the more the other team drops off and the closer you are to a score you can defend.

"Harry and I noticed a definite mood change out there at around the 40-over mark."

In reply, Coffs Harbour got off to a flier getting stuck into the opening bowlers and aided by a surplus of wides. But first-change bowler Ben McMahon quickly put a dent in the run chase, finishing with figures of 5 for 47 off 10 overs including two maidens.

The visitors were not going to die wondering, surging at almost a run a ball and within sight of victory when they lost their last wicket on 154 after 28 overs.

"They teed off against us," Many said.

"But Ben tightened it up. At 5 for 100 at drinks it felt all square.

"They hit 21 off Ben's next over and we were right under the pump again."

A Corey Kempshall direct hit run out removed the danger man just in time. Kempshall took a wicket the following over before Ben McMahon completed his bag with the last ball of his spell to end the match.

NCCC LADDER
Lower Clarence14
Clarence River11
Coffs Harbour4
Nambucca Valley2