St George score stunning start to 2017-18 season with big win over Hawkesbury

Impressive start: Opening batsman Matt Hopkins made an unbeaten century on his debut for St George. Picture: Chris Lane

Impressive start: Opening batsman Matt Hopkins made an unbeaten century on his debut for St George. Picture: Chris Lane

Centuries from new opening batsman Matt Hopkins and NSW star Kurtis Patterson and an Andrew Walsh hat-trick has helped St George to a stunning round one victory over Hawkesbury.

Saints started the NSW Premier Cricket season with a dominant 70-run win over Hawkesbury at Hurstville Oval on Saturday, with Hopkins carrying his bat at the top of the order to score an unbeaten 132 to help St George post 4-337 from their 50 overs.

Hopkins, who joined the club from Penrith in the off-season, combined with Nick Stapleton (48) for a 77-run opening stand. He was then joined at the crease by Patterson after Stapleton’s dismissal, with Patterson blasting 101 from just 67 balls.

NSW all-rounder Moises Henriques scored a quickfire 38 to push St George’s total beyond 330.

In reply, Hawkesbury looked to be in the game at 2-169 before Peter Francis dismissed opener Joshua Clarke for 99. From there, Walsh destroyed Hawkesbury’s middle order with the wickets of Corey Lowe, Jay Dyball and Harrison Ridgewell in consecutive deliveries, with the visitors eventually bowled out for 267.

It was an impressive way for St George to start the new campaign after losing a number of players over the winter. Promising young fast bowler Nathan Ellis (Hobart Hurricanes academy), Eric Denhartog (Gold Coast), Stewart McCabe (retired) and Darius Visser (Sydney University) have all departed, with their exits providing opportunities to some new faces. 

St George captain Trent Copeland was full of praise for his troops and said it was important to get off to a good start.

“[Hopkins] has been an established first grade for a while and I guess for him it has been being in the right place at the right time. You don’t expect everyone to be scoring hundreds all the time but when you bat in first grade you’re expected to deliver and he did that beautifully,” he said.

“Credit to Moises and Kurtis. Those guys came back and played with a real care and love for the club. Hawkesbury as well can’t be underestimated. They made the one-day final last season and Hurstville is a tricky one. You can put 330 on the board and think you’re in a good position but I remember on the weekend talking to the boys at half-time and saying don’t think for a second this game is over.

St George batsman Nick Stapleton attempts to cut against Hawkesbury. Picture: Chris Lane

St George batsman Nick Stapleton attempts to cut against Hawkesbury. Picture: Chris Lane

“But Pete Francis broke their big partnership getting Josh Clarke and then Andrew Walsh’s hat-trick. The thing I love about Walshy over the years is he’s always done the hard yards into the wind, bowling the ugly spells. It was a really good reward for persistence and he knocked out their middle order. Their batting depth was shot so they couldn’t chase runs late.”

NSW paceman Copeland is optimistic St George’s new-look team can cover their personnel losses with a host of young players ready to step up and take their opportunities. 

“With the considerable other talent we’ve lost over the last few years with other retirements as well it has tested our depth but that’s what it’s all about. We’re the most successful grade club for a reason because of our culture and ability to provide opportunities,” he said.

“The thing I’m most excited about is Nick [Stapleton] stepping up as captain in my absence when I’m away on state duty. It’s a fantastic opportunity for him. Matt Hopkins coming to the club, he’s in particularly hot form. He smashed 150 in our last trial before the season as well and has backed it up in round one which was really impressive.”

St George will look to continue their fine start to the season when they face local rivals Sutherland on the first day of a two-day fixture at Glenn McGrath Oval on Saturday.

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