EASTERN Knights suffered the first defeat of their Tilney T20 Blitz title defence when Cally Highlanders dashed their hopes of a winning double at The Grange on Monday.
Having eased passed Western Warriors earlier in the day, Stevie Gilmour’s men started favourites to maintain their unbeaten record.
However, batting first, the Highlanders produced their best display of the season to post the highest total of the campaign – 219-5.
Craig Wallace set the tone with consecutive maximums off Corne Dry and, while the bowler soon had his revenge, all the visiting batsmen showed the same attacking intent as their player-coach.
In the event Callum Garden went on to play the major innings, reaching a brilliant 50 from only 26 balls with three fours and four sixes.
Garden added a further flourish to finish unbeaten on 60 while his skipper Michael Leask made a 33-ball 48 and there were also significant cameos from Chris Greaves, Wihan Lubbe and Scott Cameron as the Knights bowlers and fielders toiled.
Following a brisk start to their reply, the home side lost wickets at regular intervals after the loss of Oli Hairs to Stoneywood’s Jamie King in the third over and they were soon struggling on 40-4, King also accounting for Finn McCreath while Cameron and Leask had one apiece.
Dry and Watt added 40 for the fifth wicket before the latter was bowled.
Dry went on to hit a defiant half-century but, with scoreboard pressure increasing, wickets continued to tumble as Cally clinched an excellent 57-run success.
Earlier the Knights made light of the Warriors, winning by six wickets in a much lower scoring affair.
Needing just 120 to get their day off to a flier, the capital-based troops suffered an immediate scare when Hairs, scorer of a match-winning 115no in the corresponding fixture at Titwood four days earlier, was out to the first delivery of the innings.
However, Hairs’ team-mates and opening partner Mike Carson in particular, took his departure as an invitation to demonstrate that the Knights are anything but a one-man band.
Carson was initially outshone by the brilliant teenager Tom Mackintosh who transferred some of his heroics from last week’s triumphant U19 World Cup qualifying campaign to the regional stage.
The youngster hit several classy shots on his way to a rapid 34 before holing out at mid-off.
By now, though, Carson was in the groove and, despite the loss of Hayes van der Berg and Watt, the Watsonians batsman continued to take the attack to the Warriors bowlers and finished unbeaten on 67 as the target was comfortably reached.
In a disappointing effort, the Warriors batsmen had found the morning conditions testing with several making starts only to depart cheaply, Riyaad Henry offering the only sustained resistance with 34 as the visitors limped to 119-8.
Dry was the leading Knights bowler with four wickets.
It is the Highlanders turn to have a home double header when the tournament reaches a potentially thrilling finale on Sunday 11 August at Forthill (Forfarshire Cricket Club).