THERE are still six games left in the Robinson Services Premier League but CIYMS already have one hand on the trophy after easing past nearest challengers Waringstown yesterday at Belmont.
The defending champions were without James McCollum but on the day even a century from the Ireland Wolves batsman — he missed the game in Oakhill with a hand injury — would probably not have been enough with the final margin a huge 136 runs.
CIYMS brought their A-game to the first league clash of the season between the teams who were separated at the end of last year’s 14-match programme by 0.02 of a run — but on this evidence Nigel Jones side will not have to worry about the minutia of run-rate.
If they win their game in hand — against basement side Armagh — they will have an eight points advantage.
Waringstown won the toss and Greg Thompson had no hesitation in batting first on a square which has been unplayable for the last week, but his bowlers couldn’t take advantage as John Matchett and Chris Dougherty put on 120 for the first wicket in just 25 overs.
Dougherty was dropped on 21 but it was Matchett who dominated the scoring and was first out for 73, the first of four catches for wicket-keeper Marcus McClean.
Dougherty followed three overs later for 46 but the damage had been done and steady batting by Jones and Jason van Der Merwe was just the prelude for Matt McGillivray, held back to No 6, to hit 51 not out from 21 balls, with five fours and three sixes as CI finished on 263-7.
Waringstown had hit 337-6 on Saturday at North Down, but the CI attack was several notches up and Adam Dennison after his 147, was dismissed in the fifth over for six, although it took a superb catch in the gully by James Cameron-Dow to send the in-form batsmen on his way.
Kyle McCallan, replacing McCollum at No 3, was out first ball to give Allen Coulter his second wicket and as James Hall and Lee Nelson struggled to up the tempo, Waringstown lost their way.
Jason van der Merwe, introduced as the sixth bowler in the 29th over, took the last four wickets and with Gary Kidd not batting, after injuring his broken finger in the field, the big match reached a tame conclusion 10 overs early.
North Down professional Ruhan Pretorius had promised his team-mates he would score 250 this weekend, and after being dismissed for 82 on Saturday, he had plenty of work to do against Armagh yesterday.
But against a side without their professional Shadley van Sckalkwyk, who has returned to South Africa, it proved easy pickings for Pretorius who crashed 188 in North Down’s 328-8.
Pretorius hit 16 fours and seven sixes and the final margin was 140 runs with the South African not called upon to bowl.
Indeed, the most successful North Down bowler was Alistair Shields, turning his arm over for the first time this season.
In Saturday’s other games, Civil Service North beat Carrickfergus (226) by four wickets, with Andre Malan (104) scoring another century while a young Instonians side, still missing five senior players, beat Muckamore by three wickets with three balls to spare, thanks to Matthew Humphreys' 31 not out after Robert McKinley hit 65 and captain Andrew White 77, having earlier taken 5-28 as Muckamore were bowled out for 232.