Narrandera hosted Coleambally in the first round of Milliken Shield cricket on Sunday.
Narrandera were greeted with a perfect day for cricket and sent the Coly boys in for a bat after winning the toss.
Spirits were high among the group with everyone throwing their support behind the four debutants Baxter Longmire, Tom Pearson, Hudson Coelli and Alex Wright who were in for their first cricket game for Narrandera.
Joe Foley took the new ball and with cousin James Smith coming in from the other end kept things tight in the opening overs.
Foley struck in his second over with a lovely yorker ra-ttling the stumps of Hodgson giving Narrandera the perfect start with Coleambally on the back foot at 1 for 3.
Ky Bloomfield, Thomas McLellan and Isaac Kschenka all bowled tight lines without reward until Sam Williamson broke through bowling the other opening batter Hugh White.
What followed was an even contest between bat and ball with the Coly batsmen trying to consolidate their position and the Narrandera bowlers sticking to team plans and not giving away any easy runs.
Coly reached the 20 over mark at 2 for 43 and looked primed to push hard for a big total. However first gamer Hudson Coelli had a different idea and picked up a wicket with his third ball of the match. This buoyed the team and from there a steady stream of wickets fell with Reid Hitchens, Kschenka, Foley and Williamson all picking up wickets.
Coleambally closed on 7 for 77 with Joe Foley and Sam Williamson both picking up two wickets each.
Set 78 for victory and looking to atone for last year’s grand final defeat senior players Reid Hitchens and James Smith strode to the wicket looking to blunt the Coleambally attack.
After surviving a searching early spell Hitchens was unlucky to be caught as he tried to break the shackles. This bought Isaac Kshenka to the crease who held firm with Smith but was also eventually dismissed trying to loft the ball over mid off.
At 2 for 13 after 10 overs it hadn’t been the start Narrandera were looking for and things only got worse when Smith was caught for 7. This bought Joe Foley and Ky Bloomfield together and they set about setting things right.
Turning the strike over and putting the bad ball away got Narrandera back into the game. Just as things were turning our way Bloomfield picked out the fielder and was caught for 5.
Thomas McLellan came in but was undone by the turn and bounce from the wily Coleambally leggie Munn who was giving the ball more flight than ever seen before on the NPO. This saw 3 for 59 become 5 for 62 and when Joe Foley retired after a very well made 19 things were looking tight for Narrandera.
Baxter Longmire and Mitchell Forrest came out and after getting a few sighters realised they had to go for it with 15 runs required off the final two overs.
Looking to the boundary Longmire was bowled by one that kept low bringing in Aussie Rankin who also had his stumps rattled. This left Forrest to partner with first gamer Tom Pearson.
With the game on the line Forrest saw a gap straight down the ground and launched the ball back over the bowlers head with a cracking four.
This bought cheers from the grandstand and he looked to repeat the dose the very next ball but with the Coly fielders pushed back it was cut down to a single. Running out of time the pair were only able to add a further single and the compulsory close was reached with the total on 73 – agonisingly only four runs short.
While Narrandera didn’t get the win it was a great first game and some exciting glimpses of form from all players. The team will back up with round 2 against Griffith this Sunday and looks to getting their first win.