Finley flattened by Nathalia
Finley’s Premier Grade season got off to a disappointing start on Saturday against reigning premier Nathalia, going down by 131 runs at Finley.
However the Cats showed enough to suggest this season could be more successful than more recent years.
Winning the toss, the Cats sent the visitors in on a very green and slow first-up pitch.
A superb opening spell of slow bowling from new recruit Saad Qureshi (0/30 of seven) and medium pace from Darcy Webb (0/9 off six) kept the champions on the ropes for the first hour.
Webb was almost unplayable for the opening pair of Scott Morris (13) and Harrison Hawks (32).
The Cats’ first wicket of the season was a brilliant piece of fielding from Cougar McGrath whose under arm flick disturbed the stumps to remove Morris by run out and Nathalia were 1/18.
Tocumwal’s Jesse Barker joined the Cats in the top grade for the first game and produced a sizzling opening spell to keep the pressure on the visitors.
A rising delivery snared the edge of Luke Quinn’s (12) bat and a diving Matthew Wilson catch saw the Cats in a good spot with the score 2/32.
Hawks started to find his feet and began to take to the attack and together with Luke Carter (59) the scoreboard began to tick over.
Damon Anderson (1/16) snared his first wicket of the year to remove Hawks’ off stump and at 3/83 the innings was poised.
Unfortunately for the Cats a dominant and smart century partnership between Carter and Ash Quinn (76 not out) put paid to any further Cat dominance.
The pair milked runs in what was a de´ja` vu partnership to the same fixture 12 months ago.
The pair did not dominate the bowling but ensured the run rate picked up.
As the innings drew to a close, Barker snared Carter with the score at 184 and a last minute partnership between Quinn and Tom Nihill (7 not out) saw Nathalia reach 4/215 from its 45 overs.
The Cats were keen to make a positive start with the blade but trying to do that against Ash Quinn at the best of times is challenging.
The left arm quick grabbed three wickets in his first three overs to put the Cats on the back foot from the start.
A 28 run partnership between Daniel Hibberd (11) and recruit Dan McHugh (36) got the scoreboard ticking along in the right direction.
Hibberd fell with the score on 39 and from there the middle order could not hold it together.
The shining light was McHugh whose debut innings left the Cats thinking of more positive knocks to come.
The young bat looked right at home and his innings concluded when trapped in front for an LBW with the score at 76. In the end the Cats were all out for 84.
Finley have a grand opportunity to bounce back this weekend with two one day games scheduled.
The Cats will travel to Katamatite on Saturday in what looks a winnable match and will then tackle last year’s grand finalists Cobram at Cobram on Sunday.
Division Two will start its season on Saturday afternoon against Katamatite.
Finley was forced to withdraw its Division One side from the competition due to a lack of numbers.
Club president Chris Shaw said while it was disappointing, the decision had to be made.
‘‘As hard as we tried we were eventually down on numbers,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll definitely field a Division One side next season . . . it’s only a temporary problem.’’
The club also announced its captains for the year with Shaw leading the Premier Division side and Anthony King Division Two’s skipper.