Cricket: Newcastle Blasters face battle to defend state T20 crown DELIVERY: Lake Mac Attack skipper Adrian Chad sends one down against the Hunter Hitmen at Harker Oval on Sunday. He finished with figures of 1-1 in the opening round of the T20 Regional Bash. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers

EYES ON THE BALL: Hunter Hitmen No.9 Jack Turner scored 11 not out.

PACE: Griffin Lea prepares to bowl for the Lake Mac Attack.

TweetFacebook Regional Bash: Lake Mac Attack v Hunter Hitmen at Harker OvalPictures by Max Mason-HubersRegional Bashdefending champions the Newcastle Blasters are in danger of not progressing beyond the group stage of the representative T20 competition following Sunday’s last-ball loss.

The Blasters are now scheduled to meet the Lake Mac Attack this Sunday, and the Hunter Hitmen down the track, after being beaten by the unbeaten Central Coast Rush in a dramatic encounter at Harker Oval.

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The hosts conceded three runs off the final delivery of the preliminary match, which saw the Rush end up one ahead at 6-141. Earlier the Blasters were dismissed for 140 in 18.4 overs.

Blair Lindsay (14 not out) and Connor Crane (9 not out) were the Rush batsmen at the crease for the clutch play.Trailing by two runs, they managed to work the ball to the vacant backward square-leg region and make the required target.

The Central Coast pairfeatured in an unbroken 18-run stand after openers Adam Taylor (44) and Tony Cornwell (22) had top scored.

Newcastle’s openers also shone with skipper Nathan Price (40) and left-handed Nathan Hudson (33) combining for a 58-run partnership.Throughout the innings theBlasters lost three main clumps of wickets: 3-11, 3-8 and 3-3.

Hayden Murphy (3-22) and Chris Archer (3-29) were the pick of the bowlers for the visitors while Jake Montgomery (2-10) and Jonty Durrheim (2-26) shared two scalps each for Newcastle.

This result, coupled with a second win straight afterwards, puts Central Coastin a strong position to advance to the semi-finals at the Sydney Cricket Ground later this year.

The Rush (4-170) comfortably accounted for the Hitmen (106) in the third and final game at Harker Oval on Sunday. Taylor produced a man-of-the-match performance with 47 and 4-12.

A date has yet to be determined but Central Coast’s remaining opponent is the Lake Mac Attack, who defeated the winless Hitmen by six wickets at Harker Oval on Sundayin what was their maiden appearance as an outfitin the annual Cricket NSW tournament.

The Hitmen were restricted to 8-86 and the Attack triumphed four wickets down in 15.4 overs.

Nick Watkins scored 46 at the top of the order for Lake Mac while Daniel Chillingworth took 3-11.

Meanwhile, all Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade matches were washed out for a second consecutive Saturday leaving two rounds to go in the Tom Locker Cup.

Defending one-day champions Wests sit top of Pool A following their bonus-point win in round one on September 29. The Rosellasmeet both University and Stockton & Northern Districts away over the next fortnight.

Last season’s 40-over finalists Merewether, who are yet to open their account for 2018-19, are set to take on Pool B leaders Toronto at Townson Oval this weekend followed byCardiff-Boolaroo at Cardiff No.2.