TAREE United captain Tom Burley fell nine runs short of posting the first century of the Manning tier 1 cricket season in the match against Taree West at Chatham Park.
Burley had only been to the crease once this season, in the previous match against Wingham, where he made 20.
He came to the crease when United had 57 runs on the board for the loss of two wickets following the dismissal of Josh Hardy (13) and Josh Meldrum (17). Burley and opening batsman Matt Collier took the score to 154 before Collier went for a well complied 50, including six boundaries.
Burley took a liking to the Taree West attack, smashing six boundaries and five sixes in 98 balls. He put on 66 with Ricky Campbell (29) before he became Samira Mitchell's first tier 1 wicket. His 91 is the highest score in tier 1 this season.
Burley knew he was getting close to the century.
"There were three overs to go and I picked the wrong ball to try and hit for six,'' he said.
United batted out the 40 overs and made 5/253.
Liam Bourne was the most successful of the Taree West bowlers, taking 3/47 from his eight overs.
Taree West didn't seriously challenge in the run chase and slumped to be 6/34 at one stage. Bourne led the partial recovery, top scoring with 26 while Lachlan Gregory contributed 18. Taree West batted for 32.4 overs in making 88.
Leg spinner Josh Hardy was the best of the bowlers for United, taking 4/35. Burley produced a good allround effort to take 2/8 while Ricky Campbell claimed 2/5.
Burley said the side was close to full strength for the first time this season.
"It was good that our top order was able to spend some time at the crease,'' he said.
"And our bowlers did the job required. It was a good effort.''
He aid Hardy continues to show promise with the ball, although he said he will have to adjust his line bowling on turf instead of a synthetic wicket.
Burley was disappointed not to get to the century but added he was happy to spend some time at the crease.
"My legs were pretty sore the next day though,'' he added.
United have the bye this week before finishing the season-proper with games against Gloucester and Great Lakes.
"They're going to be two important matches,'' Burley pointed out.
"Hopefully we'll have our best side available.''
United are now within three points of unbeaten leaders Great Lakes, with Lakes having the bye last weekend.
Taree West are three adrift of fourth placed Gloucester. These two sides meet this Saturday at Johnny Martin Oval.
Gloucester's bowlers did the job in the match against Wingham at Gloucester, blasting out the visitors for 89. However, their batters were again found wanting, with the Bushmen all out for 83 in reply.
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