THE RACE for the Whitney Cup finals has all of a sudden got interesting after Newtown scored a thrilling five-run win over CYMS on Saturday.
Chasing 229 for victory the Cougars appeared to be cruising when they reached 7/221 but lost their last three wickets for just two runs to be all out for 223.
The win has Newtown now within striking distance of CYMS on the Whitney Cup ladder with two rounds remaining before the finals and skipper Steve Skinner, who took three wickets on Saturday, said his side will do everything it can to nail that final spot in the post-season.
"It's a real big win for our club. I think it puts us within six points or so of CYMS and more importantly it just means we have given ourselves a shot," Skinner said.
"We've got Macquarie and Colts in the last two rounds and CYMS have Colts and then Souths so this week shapes as an important one for us because if we can beat Macquarie, you'd favour Colts to beat CYMS and we could be in third going into the final game."
A couple of times on Saturday CYMS appeared set to lock up that third spot, firstly when Harry Brennan (37) and Dave McAlister (19) put on a 56-run stand to see them 2/80 and second when brothers Ben and Lachlan Strachan combined for an 85-run stand.
That partnership saw the Cougars reach 4/166 before Ben Strachan was dismissed for a well-made 53.
His younger sibling fell shortly after for 36 but again CYMS rallied from a mini-collapse, this time through Jacob Hill and Ben O'Donnell.
They put on 44 for the eighth wicket before Hill fell to Kel Blackett for 22, sparking a final collapse which culminated in O'Donnell (29) being run out searching for a second run to maintain strike in the pursuit of the final few runs.
"We did a good job at keeping pressure on them. We knew it was going to go late into the day and we stood up to that," Skinner said.
"Ben Patterson strained a side muscle in the first session and didn't bowl after that and Mat (Skinner) had to leave for a holiday to Vanuatu at 4pm so we didn't have him in the last session either.
"Young Marty Jeffrey bowled well to have 13 overs of leg-spin for just 47 runs and I thought Harry Van Dartel (2/5 off four overs) did a good job as well with his left-arm seamers.
"Even if we don't make the finals this year, that kind of win in a close game will be good for the young boys' confidence and development in the coming seasons."