Weather leaves cricket finals hopes in balance

CRICKET

Illawarra first grade cricket has been washed out, while South Coast clubs are battling to play their second day of round 13 this afternoon.

Heavy rain on Thursday and yesterday ended hopes of play on turf wickets on the first day of the two-day round 12 in Illawarra.

A decision on play on the lower grades' synthetic wickets and juniors will be made this morning.

Two Illawarra lower grade games have been moved, with Wollongong versus Wests transferred from Dalton Park West to Dalton Park Middle, and Uni Gold versus Corrimal Red at Uni Oval No 2 now at Sid Parrish Park.

The washout is a blow to clubs chasing an outright to keep their finals hopes alive, with seven clubs still a chance of making the top four with two rounds remaining.

In South Coast cricket, a washout would be a blow to third-placed Oak Flats, who dominated leaders Albion Park in last Saturday's day one at Geoff Shaw Oval, posting 8-412.

Albion Park would be praying for rain as their best chance of forcing a draw.

A washout would give both clubs seven points and leave Oak Flats frustrated for the second straight round after they were set to beat last-placed The Rail outright only for the second day to be called off.

In other South Coast games, Shellharbour and Kiama are evenly poised heading into day two at Tom Willoughby Oval.

Fifth-placed Shellharbour were bowled out for 118, with Kiama due to resume at 4-62.

Meanwhile, second-placed Lake Illawarra and fourth-placed Kookas claimed the 14 first innings points on day one, and both head into day two in a strong position for vital outright points.

Kookas dismissed Gerringong-Jamberoo for 75 and were then bowled out for 176.

At Howard Fowles Oval, Lake Illawarra routed The Rail for just 57, with Lakers skipper Shane Cody taking 6-11.

The Lakers then declared at 7-148, with The Rail due to resume at 3-18.

Cody was optimistic play would go ahead today.

"I passed by the ground and it was being mowed, so hopefully we can get on," Cody said.

A complete washout this afternoon would leave Lake Illawarra leapfrogging Albion Park into top spot with one round remaining.

In the final round, the top four clubs face one another, with Albion Park hosting Lake Illawarra and Kookas at home to Oak Flats, while Gerringong/Jamberoo host Shellharbour and The Rail welcome Kiama.

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