Tigers roar to maul leaders
DEFENDING premiers Northsiders chose the perfect moment and manner to reassert their title credentials on Saturday.
The inconsistent Tigers demolished the previously unstoppable Laidley by a whopping 170 runs at, of all places, Laidley's Bichel Oval.
Northsiders needed just four batsmen to post their 45-over total of 2-236, with Brendan Forwood (95no) and Michael Ridgewell (92no) sharing an unbeaten 196-run stand.
The only shame is that neither was able to reach well-deserved centuries.
Forwood and Ridgewell resumed a batting partnership they last shared in the Ipswich juniors, 16 years ago.
Both returned to Ipswich this season after considerable time away, two years for Ridgewell and five for Forwood.
"He's looking very solid," Forwood said of former Ipswich and West Moreton player-of-the-year Ridgewell.
"He's got a good technique and it was great watching his big cover drives from the other end."
It was a good total but on the lightning-fast Bichel Oval, the unbeaten ladder leaders Laidley would have still been confident they could win.
"The wicket was an absolute belter," Forwood said.
"But it was a bit tough early with a hard, new ball. We thought if we could knock a few over early, we could make some inroads."
It is easier said than done against Laidley at home, unless you have an on-fire Kev Cumming (5-13) in your team.
Cumming dismissed the Laidley top order to have them 3-7.
"He generated some good pace and bounce," Forwood said.
"It was good to stand at third slip and watch."
Cumming's early devastation brought recent run-machine Michael Sippel to the crease.
Sippel had belted Northsiders, and their fast bowler Rob Hillier in particular, to all parts a fortnight earlier.
Yet recent knocks of 151 not out, 91 not out (against Northsiders), 72 and 131 not out counted for nothing as a rejuvenated Hiller (2-15) dismissed him for four, caught by Forwood at first slip.
Captain Chris Wilson top scored with 24 as Laidley were all out for 66. "They're a good side and will definitely bounce back," Forwood said.
"It was more a test for us to see what we've got to offer. We've been talking about it for the last few weeks - bowling teams out.
"It means bowling in partnerships, bowling in the right areas, pressure and early wickets."
There was a risk that if it had taken any longer, Northsiders' finals prospects may have slipped beyond their grasp.
"With the team we've got I don't think it was panic stations just yet but we needed to get a win," Forwood said.
"We could feel it building for the last couple of weeks.
Forwood spent five seasons with Wests in Brisbane before this season but returned to complete some unfinished business, having played in a losing grand final for the Tigers in 2003.
On Saturday's effort, he has a good chance of accomplishing it but Northsiders still have ground to make up on the top three to reach the finals series.
"We have a really good side ... it was just a matter of putting it all together," Forwood said.
State of play
- Northsiders' win brings Laidley back to the field only marginally but it has revived the Tigers' finals prospects.
- However, with second-placed Brothers and third-placed Centrals also winning at the weekend, the competition for the top three remains intense.