Illawarra made a winning start to the three-day NSW Country Colts carnival with an Australia Day four wicket victory over Western Zone at North Dalton Park.
Top knocks by Helensburgh brothers Hayden McCrea (67 not out) and Mitchell McCrea (45) ensured Illawarra (6/173) chased down Western’s competitive 7/172.
Earlier, Joe Kershaw (27) and Michael Waldren (25) top-scored for Western, while Northern Districts’ Jed Austin took 2/39 for Illawarra.
The victory for the fifth-seeded Illawarra over the fourth seeds Western kept Illawarra in contention to make Monday’s final of the tournament which features the eight NSW Country Associations.
Meanwhile, Wollongong will take on Keira in next month’s final of the Illawarra Twenty20 competition after both clubs had impressive semi-final wins.
An unbeaten stand of 125 from skipper Dave Studholme (66) and Troy Yabsley (55) ensured Wollongong chased down Balgownie’s 6/128 in a nine wicket win at Judy Masters Oval, while Keira (5/151) beat Corrimal (7/137) in the other semi.
Wollongong won the T20 comp last year after having the best run rate quotient with both the semi-final and final washed out.
The previous year the whole competition was washed out, while Keira won the 2009-10 T20 title, beating Wollongong in the final.
At Ziems Park, Keira batted well to post 5/151 led by opener Mark Johnston (43) and Jonathon Cook (41). Adam Brown took 3/25 for the Cougars.
Keira restricted the home side to 7/137 with Keira skipper Graeme Batty and Cook both taking 2/27. Tom McDevitt (30) and Jaymee Dillon (29) top scored for Corrimal.