Riverina suffered a gut-wrenching final-over loss to Central Coast on Tuesday.
Number 10 Joe Merlino hit a boundary from Noah Gaske on the second-last ball to secure a gripping two-wicket win in the under 14 statewide competition.
“We were able to drag it back because they needed six off 10 balls with the two wickets left,” Riverina coach Mick Galvin said.
“Our hearts were in our mouths but the fact we were able to take it all the way – we got it down to three runs from two balls – after bowling five dots at an important time was really impressive.”
Day one star Jordan Rhodes, from Lavington, bowled the second-last over with his off-spin.
It was a rollicking high-standard match.
Our hearts were in our mouths but the fact we were able to take it all the way – we got it down to three runs from two balls – after bowling five dots at an important time was really impressive.Mick Galvin
“It was pretty even through both innings, you couldn’t say either side was dominating for any length of time,” Galvin said.
Riverina posted 7-162 in the T20 clash at Wodonga’s Les Cheesley Oval.
Deniliquin’s Charlie Hiller was outstanding at opener, smashing 63 runs from just 51 balls with nine boundaries and a six in a five-star display.
“He was sensational, he wouldn’t have been out of place in a senior team in CAW (Cricket Albury-Wodonga),” Galvin enthused of the dashing innings.
“He just played really good shots, used his feet to the spinners and hit them back over their heads.
“He waited for the quicks to come to him and was really impressive, very mature.”
Griffith’s Hayden Forner, who starred with a half-century the previous day, posted 24.
The visitors had a flying start with Tyler Searle (22) and Jordan McDonald posting 45 for the opening wicket.
But superb bowling from New City’s Dominic McCrohan and Wagga’s Jake Scott slowed the scoring.
“Dom kept it really tight,” Galvin said of his right-arm paceman.
“We were leaking a few when he came on to bowl in the middle overs and he tightened it right up and took wickets at crucial stages.
“It looked pretty grim for a while there, but we were able to pull it back, which was pleasing.
“He (Dom) kept us in the game.”
McCrohan finished with 3-29 from four overs, while Scott also chipped in with three.
Central Coast was 5-118 after 14 overs, scoring the 48 required at eight per over to land the thrilling win with McDonald outstanding, making 59.
The elite junior competition returns to the 40-over format on Wednesday with Riverina facing Newcastle.
The match was scheduled for Tallangatta’s Rowen Park but, due to the heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon, has been moved to North Albury’s Bunton Park.
Riverina will play Greater Illawarra on Thursday.
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