A FIVE-wicket haul from Tony Blanch ensured Westlawn stayed in touch with reigning premiers Harwood in the GDSC Premier League cricket encounter at the Ulmarra Showground on Saturday.
Westlawn had to endure a strong, attacking Harwood middle order, but with 10 wickets in hand next Saturday will be confident of chasing down Harwood's 182-run total.
Harwood was in trouble early in their innings losing both openers Geoff Simmons (6) and Nathan Ensbey (4) with only 18 runs on the board. Fears of a top order collapse were soon allayed with Luke Harradine (43) and Greg Firth (45) producing a 77-run partnership.
Mark Ensbey (24) and Matt Young (37) further strengthened Harwood's grip on the innings, but with Blanch (5/43) picking up both Harradine and Ensbey, the tide began to turn.
When Craig Moran fell for three runs and Mitchell Johnson (9) followed 13 runs later, Harwood were facing the prospect of seeing their good work slide down the drain. Young, still at the crease, kept Harwood's hopes alive but with partners falling by the wayside, the innings was starting to slide out of control.
Fittingly, it was Blanch who ended Harwood's innings, nabbing Young.
“We bowled well for most of the day and kept the scoring rate in sight,” Westlawn captain Brendan Purser said.
Westlawn faced 17 overs before the close of play, with openers Purser (28no) and Jason Chevalley (4no) negotiating the tricky period before stumps to leave Westlawn in a sound position at 0/33.
“I think we're the dominant team ... runs come pretty easily at Ulmarra,” Purser said.
“I'm pretty confident of getting the win.”