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Heartbreak for Northern Rivers

Northern Rivers have suffered another heartbreaking loss to finish their Victorian Bushrangers Under-18 State Championships campaign.

DAMEN FRANCIS January 16, 2014 4:05am

Northern Rivers finished one of the most heartbreaking representative cricket campaigns imaginable yesterday.

For the third time in as many days since their opening round win against Mallee Murray Bulls in the Victorian Bushrangers Under-18 State Championships, Rivers lost by a narrow margin, falling to South East Sharks by three wickets, with just seven balls to play in a shortened one-day game.

It followed a two-run loss to Outer East Eagles on Tuesday and a one-run defeat to Inner South East Scorpions on Monday.

Coach Sean McCann could hardly believe it.

‘‘We played some really good cricket,’’ McCann said.

‘‘There were no areas that were overly poor, it was just little things.

‘‘The positive is that we have seven guys that can go again next year and hopefully they have improved their cricket and the close games give them motivation to go better next year.’’

Batting first against the Sharks, Rivers recovered from 3-3, to post 7-153.

Old Students all-rounder Riley Michel scored 43 not out from 41 deliveries and put on an unbeaten 70 with Isaac Conway (32 not out) from the final eight overs.

Rhiley Lau of Central Park-St Brendan’s scored 37, but suffered a quad injury that meant he was unable to bowl.

The Sharks cruised to 1-102, but Rivers put the breaks on to set up the tense, but devastating finish.

Michel (2-23) and spinner Liam Bowe (2-29) were the best of the bowlers.

Central Park-St Brendan’s Layton McCann was Rivers’ top-scorer for the carnival, with 96 of his 135 runs coming against Inner South East Scorpions in round two.

McCann also managed three wickets.

Lau made good contributions in the middle-order, with starts of 45, 28 and 37 in four games, and took one wicket.

Fellow Tiger, Brayden McGregor, was the pick of the bowlers, with eight wickets at an average of 12.75, along with Michel, who mirrored McGregor’s figures with the ball and finished the week on a high with the bat.

Old Students’ James Billington scored 111 runs for the carnival, including knocks of 62 and 40 and Kyabram’s Kyle Mueller endured a difficult week, managing just 26 runs in four innings opening the batting.

Billington also performed well as stand-in captain, with Numurkah’s Will Arnel missing the rest of the carnival, after injuring his shoulder in the warm-up for Monday’s game.

Arnel struck a match-winning 87 not out on the opening day and his steady hand with the bat was sorely missed in the middle-order.

Meanwhile, Country Victoria’s Australian Country Cricket Championships campaign came to a disappointing close yesterday.

Victoria lost its final match of the carnival to East Asia Pacific by six wickets to finish bottom of the table.

Strathmerton’s Luke Carter and Cobram’s Shaun Downie performed well in limited opportunities.

Carter batted mainly at seven and averaged 23.2 runs in five innings, with a top score of 41, and took two wickets in 16 overs with the ball.

Downie was overlooked in game one and batted at eight for three games, before being elevated to five for the final game.

He averaged 42.5, with two not outs and a top score of 33 and did not get a chance with the ball.

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