AFTER a tense struggle, Coffs Harbour's under 14s representative cricket team claimed victory over Lower Clarence in the North Coast Cricket Council interdistrict final played on Sunday.
Wet weather caused the postponement of the Under 12 and 16 finals but there were no such problems at Harwood Oval for the Under 14s.
Coffs captain Trent Dierick won the toss and sent the home side into bat.
Coffs had immediate success when Jacob Corlis (1 for 8) sent the stumps cart-wheeling in the second over.
Shortly after Tim Parkins took a great diving catch in the gully off Dean Slattery's bowling then just before the drinks break, Dean bowled the opposition captain to have Lower Clarence reeling at 3 for 30.
Wickets continued to fall as Monte Sonter produced a slick runout and spinners Trent Dierick (1 for 18) and Kurt Atkinson (1 for 10) collected a wicket apiece. Just as the Lower Clarence tail started to hit out, opening bowler Zach Symons (3 for 9) was reintroduced into the attack. He claimed three wickets in one over while Dean Slattery (3 for 9) picked up the last wicket. Lower Clarence was all out for 65 runs.
In reply, Coffs Harbour's openers Kurt Atkinson (15) and Rory Tolhurst (9) made a confident start. They shared an opening stand of 25 runs but Kurt's dismissal sparked a major collapse.
Coffs lost their next three wickets for the addition of one run.
Lower Clarence had clawed its way back into the match to have spectators from both sides on the edge of their seats.
A further four wickets fell as Lower Clarence gained the upper hand to have Coffs struggling at 8 for 50. Coffs desperately needed a decent partnership and this was eventually provided by Dean Slattery (25 not out) and Jack Hartley (5 not out). The pair kept calm as they took Coffs to a nail biting victory.
Even though it was a low-scoring game, both sides gave their all in the tight contest played in great spirit.
Dean Slattery was deservedly named the player of the final after a match winning all round performance.
The win was Coffs Harbour's fourth consecutive finals victory in this age group. The other two Coffs Harbour representative teams have also had great seasons to reach their respective finals.
This Sunday the Coffs Harbour under 16s will defend its title against Clarence River while the following Sunday the under 12s will take on Nambucca/Bellingen.