North East Knights close in on semi spot

THE North East Knights are just one win away from a shock semi- final berth at the Victorian Country Championships.

The team, filled with the North East’s best youngsters, sneaked home with just three balls to spare in a thriller against the South East Bayside Breakers yesterday.

After keeping the Breakers to 9-157 in searing temperatures which saw the match restricted to 35 overs each, the Knights got off to a slow, but more than steady start through birthday boy Matt Crawshaw and Isaac Willett.

Crawshaw, who turned 18 yesterday, made a solid 33 at the top of the order while Willett charged to 47 as the Knights sat comfortably at 2-118.

Rovers United batsman Callum Nankervis followed up his solid form on Monday with a handy 35, while Teeran Gleeson finished unbeaten on 28 as the Knights passed the total just three wickets down.

The Knights haven’t put a foot wrong since their disappointing loss against the Northern Falcons on day one and coach Heath Naughton said his troops were performing exceptionally well against strong opposition.

“The boys have been great,” he said.

“Some of the city kids these boys are coming up against are some seriously good players.

“There was a kid yesterday who opens the bowling for St Kilda.

“So to win two of our first three games against city teams is awesome.

“It’s good for the confidence.

“Our boys actually understand now that they can match it with them.”

The Knights take on the Inner South East Scorpions in a qualifying final today at Central Reserve in Glen Waverley.

The Scorpions progressed unbeaten from Group B after accounting for the Outer East Eagles, Northern Rivers and the Mallee Murray Bulls.

However, the Knights have every reason to be confident, with the last two of the Scorpions’ wins anything but convincing, coming in final over thrillers.