It was honours even after the bowlers dominated the opening day of the RSA Inter-Provincial Championship game between the North West Warriors and Northern Knights at Eglinton. A combination of excellent seam bowling, muggy overhead conditions, poor shot selection and a greenish tinged pitch meant that 20 wickets fell in just under 100 overs play.
Phil Eaglestone (3-35) and Nathan Waller (3-38) both bowled superb opening spells, and with Andrew White (1-9) dismissing Stuart Thompson with his first delivery, the Knights were always in control in the early stages. The Warriors cause wasn't helped by Niall McDonnell running himself out from the first ball he faced to leave his team 51 for 5.
Kamran Sajid, drafted in as a replacement for the injured Peter Connell, was the only NW batsman to show the application needed. He top scored with 47 from 101 balls (6 fours) sharing a sixth wicket stand of 33 with Andrew Riddles (19). Knights coach Eugene Moleon accounted for both Riddles and Sajid just after the lunch break, and Eaglestone and Waller then returned to wrap up the innings as the Warriors ended up on 116 all out.
Chris Dougherty and Johnny Terrett started the reply in positive fashion, hitting seven boundaries as they added 35 with little or no alarm. Johnny Thompson though turned the game around when he had Dougherty caught behind, and then trapped Irish international James Shannon lbw first ball. Indeed, Thompson thought he had secured his hat-trick as he had a huge appeal for a caught behind off Andrew White turned down.
In what could be a decisive blow though for the Warriors he suffered a suspected hamstring tear shortly afterwards and is highly unlikely to bowl again in the match - his figures at that stage 2 for 24 from six overs. Stuart Thompson had White caught behind by Ricky-Lee Dougherty - one of five catches for the Donemana keeper - and Johnny Terrett (29) followed in the next over from Andy Britton (2-40). Zimbabwe Test player Craig Ervine made just 5 before being palpably lbw to Stuart Thompson, and when Lee Nelson (11) was brilliantly caught down the leg side by a leaping Dougherty, the Knights were 65 for 6 and in danger of conceding a first innings lead.
Greg Thompson (26) and Nathan Waller (22) added 42 - the biggest partnership of the game - to take the scores near parity, before Waller gloved Riddles to a diving Dougherty. Thompson edged Sajid to David Rankin at second slip, while Eugene Moleon (14) landed a few lusty blows from McBrine, before the Donemana all-rounder got his revenge by having him caught at slip. Stuart Thompson (3-31) wrapped up the innings as Rushe, acting on instructions from the sidelines, took a wild swing and was bowled as the Knights finished on 131 all out - a lead of just 15.
The Warriors were left with a tricky period of six overs to negotiate, and should have lost Sajid in the first over - dropped by Greg Thompson at second slip from the bowling of Phil Eaglestone. There were no further alarms as both teams finally settled into three-day mode and at 12 for 0, the difference is just three runs at the end of a breathtaking day.
All to play for when the action gets under way again tomorrow at 11am.
RSA Inter-Provincial Championship at Eglinton -
Day 1 Close of Play
North West Warriors 116 all out (44.2 overs, K Sajid 47, P Eaglestone 3-35, N Waller 3-38, E Moleon 2-29) and 12-0 (6 overs)
Northern Knights 131 all out (48.3 overs, J Terrett 29, G Thompson 26, N Waller 22, S Thompson 3-31, J Thompson 2-24, A Britton 2-40)
North West Warriors trail Northern Knights by 3 runs.