Blues fall just short in Wollongong

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The heartbreak has continued for the New South Wales Blues in the Sheffield Shield after it was narrowly defeated by Queensland late on day four at North Dalton Park in Wollongong.

NSW lost the fixture by 36 runs after a valiant effort to chase down the 280 required for victory in 52 overs. Blues captain Peter Nevill (53) top-scored for the hosts and was the final wicket to fall.

The Blues were bowled out for 243 with a little more than five overs left in the day.

It was NSW second consecutive loss by less than 40 runs after it went down in an agonising 23-run defeat to Victoria in their previous match.

“Unfortunately, that sort of sums up our season really, it’s been a case of getting ourselves in pretty good positions … and just not being able to capitalise on them unfortunately,” Nevill said.

“We were scoring at a very good rate but unfortunately we just lost too many wickets along the way.”

Trent Copeland starred with the ball for the Blues. He claimed 4-94 in the second innings and finished with nine scalps for the match after his first innings five-wicket haul.

“He was very, very close to going … a little treble of five-fors in the last three innings, so he’s certainly finished the season really well and has been a fantastic bowler for us throughout the whole season,” Nevill said.

At various stages it looked as though the Blues may be able to complete a miraculous victory, particularly with Nic Maddinson (34) and Param Uppal (20) at the crease. 

The pair put on 53 runs for the fifth wicket and a win seemed a possibility. However, the dismissal of Uppal and Maddinson within the space of three overs put a dent in those aspirations.

Wickets tumbled throughout the fourth day’s play with sixteen in total.

Michael Neser was the most impressive of the Queensland bowlers. He claimed 3-43 in the second innings and six wickets for the match.

Queensland resumed day four at 3/315 and added 123 runs before Queensland captain Jimmy Peirson declared the innings closed after lunch and set the scene for a thrilling finish.

Charlie Hemphrey (95 not out) and Sam Heazlett (4 not out) were both unbeaten at the start of play.

The tall right-hander took little time to score the five runs required to bring up his fourth First Class ton. He made 101 from 240 balls.

His 246-run partnership with player of the match Marnus Labuschagne (134) in the second innings would prove pivotal in the victory for Queensland.

Hemphrey became the first dismissal of the day shortly after reaching his century when Harry Conway (1-80) trapped him lbw.

It led to a minor collapse for Queensland in their search of quick runs. Despite a resolute knock by Jack Wildermuth (45 not out), wickets fell constantly at the other end. The visitors lost 6/123 to finish its second innings 9 dec./438.

In reply, the victors made the ideal start when Nick Larkin was dismissed lbw to Neser for a second ball duck.

Although that didn’t stop the Blues from giving it everything the team had to finish the season with a win.

Daniel Hughes played some scintillating shots during his 27 from 23 balls, but his stay at the crease was cut short when he chopped on from the bowling of Neser.

Moises Henriques (15) was the next to go and was soon followed by Kurtis Patterson (29), who departed in similar fashion to Hughes playing onto his stumps.  

The Blues were 4-72 within the first 12 overs, and despite being ahead of the required run rate, could not seem to stem the flow of wickets.

It was momentarily halted when Uppal and Maddinson came together, but that soon changed again as the game progressed at a rapid rate.

Uppal fell in the 21st over after spooning a catch to short cover, and then less than three overs later, Queensland quick Brendan Doggett (2-51) snared the crucial wicket of Maddinson, who miss timed a pull shot and was caught at mid-wicket.

Copeland was the seventh wicket to fall and gave Wildermuth (2-54) his second. Two handy partnerships ensued.

Firstly, Nevill and Abbott (20), added 35 for the eighth wicket which was followed by a partnership between the captain and Steve O’Keefe (18) worth another 35.

Abbott, in particular, looked to continue the similar vein of form he showed in the first innings when he scored 79. He made 20 from 19 balls before he feathered a scooter out of the rough from Swepson (2-50) through to Peirson behind the stumps.

Harry Conway provided sturdy support to his captain in the latter stages, but it wasn’t to be as Nevill, fell to an excellent catch by Joe Burns diving forward off the bowling of Doggett.

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