It's first blood to Waringstown in the battle of the NCU’s big two with victory in last night’s Lagan Valley Steels T20 Cup clash at Belmont by five wickets.

Admittedly it was a vastly under-strength CI side, missing no fewer than six first choice players while Waringstown were missing only Lee Nelson and Gary Kidd.

But it was a familiar name who inflicted the league champions first defeat since Waringstown won last year’s Challenge Cup semi-final between the teams.

Greg Thompson, who scored the little matter of 302 runs last weekend added another 57 to that tally, from 37 balls, to take his side to within four runs of victory Four balls later, it was all over with two overs to spare.

Earlier, Haseeb Azam finished off the CI innings with four wickets in his last two overs for figures of 5-9
James McCollum interrupted his Ireland commitments to play for Waringstown - he was bowled by Nigel Jones for one – but Cricket Ireland prevented Mark Adair turning out for CI.

Civil Service North won the Group B game against at a canter, Mark Ellison and Andre Malan scoring all 126 runs without being parted.

Ireland wicket-keeper Gary Wilson also turned out for CSN but while not required to bat, bowled his four overs and took two wickets in his last.

Of much more importance for the losers last night is tomorrow’s Robinson Services Premier League action and CI will welcome back Ryan Hunter, John Matchett and David Robinson for the home game against Carrickfergus as they bid to extend their winning run to 17 games.

On Sunday, Nikolai Smith will captain an Emerging Knights squad in their first game of the season, against Lightning Bolts in College Park.

It’s a side missing schoolboys because of exam commitments but includes seasonal newcomers in Marcus O’Riordan and CJ van der Walt plus last year’s Section Two player of the year, Ross Bryans of Templepatrick. In all seven clubs are represented.

Emerging Knights squad: N Smith (Instonians, capt), A Adey (Muckamore), R Bryans (Templepatrick), S Gordon (Muckamore), M McCord (Carrickfergus), J Matchett (CIYMS), J Magee (Instonians), J Magowan (North Down), J Mulder (CIYMS), M O’Riordan (Muckamore), M Topping (CSN), CJ van der Walt (Carrickfergus).