Hillgrove’s two-day campaign got off to a flyer with a dominant display against City on the weekend.
The defending premiers opted to bat first after winning the toss but didn’t score as many runs as they would have liked on a batting-friendly Bellevue Oval.
City’s bowlers managed to dismiss Hillgroves batting line-up for 163 after 36.4 overs with opener Josh Croft (24), captain Matt Schaefer (44) and Jack Carey (25) the side’s top contributors.
“I didn't think we batted that well to be fair,” Schaefer said.
“The pitch was really good, the outfield was good, we didn't score enough runs in our first innings but then we came out and bowled really well.”
Hillgrove’s bowling line-up was on song as the ripped through City’s openers.
Max Laurie snagged the wicket of opener Andy Sawyer for nine before Andrew Curry chimed in to claim fellow opener Andrew Skinner for one.
Laurie added two more scalps in Simon Stubbs (0) and City captain Kyle Taylor (9) before Curry picked up his second in Justin Ryan (0).
Karl Triebe slowed up Hillgrove’s wicket taking before he was dismissed by Schaefer for 23.
Schaefer sent Dylan Yeomans (0) and Dan Hogan (1) back to the sheds shortly after and with two of City’s batsmen unavailable, they were out for 72.
“Max bowled well, Cuz [Andrew Curry] bowled well, we only had to get eight wickets - they were a couple of guys short in the afternoon - so we got through them and got key wickets at key times,” Schaefer said.
“We got Kyle pretty cheap and Karl as well, they're both good bats in the middle order and important wickets.
“We got those guys cheaply and got through them with about 70 so we had a lead of about 90 overnight.”
The second day’s play saw Hillgrove’s batsmen step up a gear with Croft notching up 52 runs, Andrew Byrne 93, Dick Heagney 19 retired and Schaefer 51 not out before they declared at 5-182, leaving City with 273 runs to chase down.
“It was one of those things, it was hard to know how many overs to leave to bowl them out but we went out there and had a crack at it,” Schaefer said.
“Everyone I said needed to step up, stepped up.”
Down but not out, City’s batsmen put up a fight with Skinner putting together an innings of 27, Aaron Bligh 46 and Triebe 35 but it wasn’t enough as they finished the match at 5-157.
“Again, I think we bowled pretty well,” Schaefer said.
“Dropped a couple of catches at key times but that happens.
“Probably a bit careless in the field and probably a bit tired as well - we have been playing one dayers and working into a two dayer in the heat.
“It was a really good weekend, I thought Bellevue was really good again - the outfield was unreal out there so it was value for shots.”
The Armidale cricket season takes a break over the Christmas period but will get back underway on January 13 with Guyra up against Hillgrove and Ex-Services taking on City.