Larne hosted Donaghadee in Saturday’s battle of the last remaining unbeaten sides in NCU’s Section Three, with the local side emerging victorious, winning by 81 runs.
Michael Kennedy was on form with a solid half-century 52, but it was Eddie Hunter who again stole the show with a top-score 88 as they posted 190-6 to Donaghadee’s 109.
Larne are flying high at the top of the table - eight points ahead of Saturday’s opponents.
Club legend Jonathan Baxter returned to the side and joined Hunter to open the Larne innings, both batsmen looking solid against some excellent new ball bowling. However, just as the partnership started to get going, Baxter was adjudged LBW with the score on 32.
Hunter continued on his recent fine form, scoring all around the ground and took Larne to only two wickets down. Larne then looked to accelerate their scoring and utilise the wickets they had in hand, unfortunately the home side lost Trevor Dempsey and Keenan within three balls and were wobbling at 90-4. However, from this point Larne took complete control of the game.
Kennedy joined Hunter and immediately looked in fine touch as the pair scored almost at will. Kennedy put all the bowlers under pressure, cracking two enormous sixes during his excellent innings of 52, which was his maiden half century for the club.
Kennedy and Hunter continued to score freely putting on 83 runs in 11 overs to put Larne in the driving seat. Hunter was attempting to bat the full Larne innings for the third week running, when tiredness got the better of him and he was caught for a masterful 88, Larne finishing on 190-6 after their 40 overs.
Hunter took the new ball with Aaron McKinley and both bowlers had the ‘Dee batsmen in all sorts of trouble, effectively ending the game. They claimed seven wickets between them in their opening spells.
Hunter made the initial breakthrough when he had the dangerous Martin well caught at cover by Keenan. He followed this up by removing the number three first ball and then narrowly missed out on a hat-trick, but did have Spiers caught by Gaw later in the over.
At the other end, McKinley had little luck in his first four overs, with numerous edges landing between fielders or going for 4. Luckily for Larne, the young fast bowler kept his head and was rewarded with the next four wickets to fall, one of which came from a sharp catch behind by Trevor Dempsey.
On this sort of form, McKinley is almost unplayable and is the perfect foil for Hunter. Gaw decided to bowl his openers straight through and after 16 overs ‘Dee had been reduced to 80-7.
Gaw then introduced himself alongside Chris Dempsey and the spinners took on where the seamers left off, taking the last remaining wickets in quick time, with Chris claiming two and Gaw one, leaving ‘Dee all out for 109 in the 27th over. This meant Larne were victorious by 81 runs.
After the game, Gaw said: “The partnership between Micheal Kennedy and Eddie Hunter changed the game, Michael proved how good a player he is, he actually out-scored Ed in their partnership of 83 and that is no mean feat, given how well Hunter is playing at present.
“On the bowling front, I have been telling people for weeks that if both Aaron and Eddie click on the same day, they will demolish someone’s top order. They both clicked and at times were virtually unplayable. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come as we look to continue our unbeaten start to the league campaign. This Saturday we host Newforge in what will be another tough game, with a 1pm start, all support is greatly welcomed.”