Belltrees become ladder leaders after defeating Bushrangers in local derby

QUACK QUACK: Greg Sheehan made an uncharacteristic duck on the weekend against the Bulls. FILE PHOTO. Photo provided by Tim Johnson

QUACK QUACK: Greg Sheehan made an uncharacteristic duck on the weekend against the Bulls. FILE PHOTO. Photo provided by Tim Johnson

AFTER five rounds the table is beginning to take shape, and some clubs are showing clear improvements on last year.

After clawing their way past the likes of Bushrangers and the Bulls to make the top four in 2018/19, Belltrees have started the new campaign on top form and now sit top of the ladder following four wins in a row, after overcoming their loss in the opening round.

Reigning premiers Merriwa are breathing down their necks however, sitting just two points behind with a game in hand and boasting a 100 per cent win record so far.

The current first place side defeated their local rivals, Bushrangers, on Saturday and did it with relative ease after chasing down 127 with 8 wickets in hand.

Hayden Quinlivan and Ben McRae starred with the ball, both taking 4 for 27, with the former also making a solid 46 with the bat.

Top score of the day went to Bushrangers' opener Broque Smith however, who can take his innings of 61 as a consolation for the loss.

McRae said their ability to field their strongest team, or close to, every week has contributed to the strong start.

"It's the same sort of team as in the previous couple of years... we seem to have the core of the team playing each week and that's pretty massive if you want to be successful in this competition," he said.

In regards to their victory on the weekend, the all-rounder revealed they had concerns throughout the match after a fast start by their opponents and the strong form of the aforementioned Smith.

However, he believes it was a case of experience prevailing as the self-titled 'dads army', got over the line against their younger rivals.

"I think the experience in our team is what probably got on top of the Bushrangers on the weekend,"he said.

"But there's no animosity between the two teams, we get along like one big family."

He said they were trying not to get ahead of themselves in terms of results, especially with Merriwa continuing their hot form at the weekend.

In that match, they chased down the Belmore Bulls' respectable total of 178, although didn't complete the task all that comfortably as they lost 8 wickets in the process.

It was a case of hot and cold for both teams with the bat as Charlie Stokes and Ben Crackett top scored for their respective sides with 54, while a total of 6 ducks ensured there were plenty of players returning to the sheds with a fine to pay.

The Bulls started their innings relatively slowly which put pressure on the middle and lower order to score runs quickly, while Merriwa took the opposite approach and tried to pick up most of the runs before drinks.

With the match being relatively close there's always moments to look back on as game changing, and Bulls' skipper Gavin Newton gave a good indication as to what that may have been in his report.

"Things were tough early but they [Newton and Crackett] combined well, putting the bad balls away and working singles when they could," he stated.

"Ben eventually committed the ultimate sin and ran out the captain, not realising the age of his legs."

The Scone side now sit fifth after the weekend's loss.

In other results, Silver Slugs enjoyed their first win of the season by picking up an 8 wicket victory over Bunnan, Aberdeen also won by that margin as they continued their strong start to the year against Murrurundi, Rouchel easily dismissed Brook Blue my a margin of 111 runs and Souths had the bye.

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