A comfortable four-wicket win over Lower Clarence on Sunday has put Cessnock through to the semi-finals of the NSW McDonalds Country Plate.
On the beautiful Oxley Oval in Port Macquarie, Lower Clarence had no hesitation in batting first after they won what appeared to be a crucial toss.
It didn’t take long for Robbie Sidebottom (4-25) to start dismantling their top order with quality fast bowling.
Three of his wickets were taken before Lower Clarence had reached double figures.
His Wine Country teammate Stephen Abel then produced a spell that had to be seen to be believed, finishing with 0-5 off 10 straight overs.
Lower Clarence managed to build a small partnership and looked like they were going to bat themselves back into the game.
But in what is becoming the norm for this Cessnock side, young colt hero Bryce Element again picked up the prized wicked and followed up a few balls later with an amazing run-out from the square leg fence.
Lower Clarence were eventually dismissed in the 38th over for 108 with Element picking up two wickets and Martin Shearer, Matt Tomlinson and Brent Watson all claiming one wicket each.
The bowlers fought hard to restrict all but three Lower Clarence batsmen to single figures.
Cessnock then faced a tough 45 minute period before the allotted lunch break.
A small collapse saw in-form Branxton duo Joshua Dagg and Greg Andrews arrive at the crease at 3/24.
After negotiating until lunch, the Greta/Branxton teammates built a 48-run partnership, which took the wind out of the vocal Lower Clarence side.
Dagg (36) carried his bat and hit the winning runs in the 29th over, with the eventual man of the match Sidebottom at the other end.
Cessnock now move on to the semi-finals, which is the furthest any Cessnock side has made it in the country plate competition.
The semi-finals will take place at Grafton on Wednesday, December 28.
All four remaining sides will participate in a carnival to determine the eventual winner of the country plate.
The other three remaining teams include Temora, Young and Bowral.
Cessnock overcame injuries and player unavailability in earlier rounds of the competition to defeat Singleton, Upper Hunter and Inverell.
The country plate is a state-wide knockout competition, which includes teams representing smaller regional centres across country NSW.
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