SKITTLING Centennials Bulls for just 56 runs - it was little wonder Rugby Union captain Sam Macpherson called Saturday's effort “the best bowling performance” he had seen for a long time in from his men in first grade.
On a Sportsground deck which dramatically favoured bowlers, Bulldogs ensured themselves first innings points in the Bathurst District Cricket Association two-day match by dismissing their rivals in the space of 26 overs after they had struggled to 143.
Both sides went onto the game missing a host of regular first graders, but those who did turn out to play never would have predicted what unfolded.
It was just the fourth time in seven seasons the Bulls had been dismissed for less than 100 runs in a regular round game and their worst effort since falling for 85 to City Colts on November 19, 2011.
Luke Powell (4-26 off nine overs) and Ryan Peacock (4-12 off 7.4) did the damage for Rugby, while Aiden McBurney (1-10 off eight) also impressed his skipper.
“Wow, what a day. On a bowlers’ deck both teams wanted to bowl first,” Macpherson said.
“With the ball, Powelly and Aiden McBurney opened up and were just unbelievable.
“Peackers came in and had good rhythm. It was the best bowling performance I've seen from a Rugby Union Cricket Club team in a long time.”
Before Rugby had its chance to bowl, it was the Bulls who were celebrating after winning the toss and sending their opponents in to bat.
Chris Redding took a wicket with just his third delivery - bowling Macpherson for two - and went on to finish with the impressive figures of 5-34 off 13 overs.
Fellow new-ball bowler Josh Howarth (2-12 off four) also found success as he removed both Chris Albon and Dylan Seaman for ducks.
That pair had their rivals in strife early at 3-4 then 4-27, but even with bowling changes the Bulls continued to trouble Rugby.
The Bulldogs slumped to 7-80 and were it not for the experienced Jameel Quershi, who hit 89 after coming in at number five, they would not have reached triple figures.
Qureshi was the only batsman on the opening day of play to really settle in at the crease, but even then he did not score freely as his knock included just two boundaries.
Powell (20) and Ryan Peacock (11) were the only other Rugby bastmen to reach triple figures, Jeremy Nash (2-21 off nine) bringing their innings to a close in the 43rd over for 143.
Still, that total proved to be one Rugby easily defended.
Powell struck in his opening over, bowling Ryan Gurney (duck), and from there Bulls slipped to 4-8.
They never recovered.
Only Troy Kenny (14) made it to double figures as Rugby produced its best performance with the ball against the Bulls since the 2015-16 rain-affected semi-final when dismissing their rivals for 98.
Macpherson was pleased to see his side earn first innings points - especially given the players that were missing - but knows they need to go on with the job next Saturday.
“We were 3-4 and I was thinking if we can get 100, we can defend it. Jameel just played tough cricket, what he does best, and the other boys chipped in around him. We needed more partnerships,” Macpherson said.
“We had four debutants in the team, a lot of our first graders we unavailable.
“Next week will be a long day, we have an 87-run lead. We just need to put in a better batting performance.”