CIVIL Service North made a painful exit from the Bob Kerr Irish Cup when they failed to defend 252 in 45 overs, losing to Merrion by five wickets.

In the only quarter-final to beat the weather, the 2010 winners got home with three balls to spare thanks to skipper John Anderson's unbeaten 110.

It had all looked so promising for the NCU side at halfway, after professional Griffin Nieuwoudt and former Ireland international Regan West put on 175 for the fourth wicket, the last 100 coming up in just seven overs.

South African Nieuwoudt brought up his century with three successive sixes off Ben Ackland but was out immediately afterwards in the 43rd over. In all he hit five fours and seven sixes.

West was out for 82 (eight fours and two sixes) and when Nigel Jones then bowled Ackland and ran out Damien Poder with just six runs on the board, CSN, in their first quarter final since 1991, were firmly on top.

But first Tim Lang and then Anderson got the upper hand and although Paddy Fisher held a return catch to end Lang's fine innings, Anderson saw Merrion home in a perfectly paced reply.

In the first Ulster Bank Premier League game for four weeks, joint bottom beat joint top in a game cut short by the rain.

Hosts Ballymena, though, were well on top after dismissing Instonians for just 123 with pro Kaushik Aphale claiming a remarkable 10-4-9-4.

The Braidman did not score a run in the first five overs and lost two wickets but their patience was rewarded as Aphale showed his class with the bat to bring up a deserved half century just before the expected rain came in to end the match. It was safely past the 20 overs minimum and Ballymena were 28 runs to the good.

Today's scheduled Premier League game between Carrickfergus and CIYMS was called off yesterday.

There is a five-way tie at the top of the North West Senior One table after Strabane joined the leaders following their Duckworth/Lewis win over Bready.

Here, too, it was straightforward. When the Red Caps resumed on 55 for one, they needed only another 14 from nine overs and coasted home.

That was the only Senior One game to be played yesterday and St Johnston have had to give up home advantage for their Senior Cup tie against Brigade today. They have agreed to play at Beechgrove, starting at noon,