Waringstown inflicted what could be a fatal blow to North Down’s Premier League title ambitions at The Lawn on Sunday.
The villagers produced a polished display in a comfortable seven-wicket win, their third 50-over victory over their old rivals in succession this season.
In many ways though, that sequence of results leaves more questions than it answers because Waringstown themselves are already out of the title race.
The villagers can have no complaints about losing in the early part of the season to Instonians but captain Kyle McCallan will be scratching his head about how the most talented group of players in the division stumbled to defeats to struggling Lisburn, Ballymena and CIYMS.
Sunday’s display was in stark contrast to the limp performances the previous weekend against CI in the league and Coleraine in the Ulster Cup final.
Waringstown took an early stranglehold as Phil Eaglestone struck twice in the fifth over of the match after North Down had won what should have been an important toss.
The left-arm seamer first had Jonathan Terrett caught and then he comprehensively bowled his fellow opener Nick Larkin.
But Ryan Haire, the North Down captain, looked in the mood as he raced to 38 in 38 balls, plundering two big sixes against the scorebox. Haire and Alistair Shields took the score to 87 for two in the 19th over before he was well caught by Andrew Mitchell at mid-on off Gary Kidd.
McCallan bowled Peter Eakin for a duck and when Alistair Shields was stumped after a battling 42 it precipitated a collapse that saw North Down lose their last six wickets for 44 runs.
McCallan, who took five wickets for 11 runs in the Challenge Cup tie between the clubs earlier in the season, claimed three for 10 and Eaglestone four for 26.
Waringstown lost twice last weekend chasing targets of 169 and 164 but this was a much better batting pitch and 165 was never going to amount to a real test provided they saw off Tim Ley and James Cameron-Dow.
Adam Dennison played his most impressive senior innings yet, striking five boundaries in a polished 40, and the opening stand with James Hall was only ended three runs short of the century mark.
This was probably Hall’s best innings of the season as he drove superbly through the off-side and dealt well with the consider threat of Cameron-Dow’s left-arm spin.
Hall struck 12 fours in an unbeaten 76 from 111 balls as Waringstown, who have lost six matches on their home ground this season, cruised home with more than eight overs to spare.
Waringstown travel to Lisburn on Saturday and leaders Instonians on Sunday.