Brook Blue building strongly despite tough loss to Merriwa in Upper Hunter District Cricket Association round seven

MERRIWA stormed home to keep its 100 per cent record this season intact at the weekend, but was made to work for it by an improving Brook Blue outfit.

The Upper Hunter District Cricket Association reigning premiers hosted the Muswellbrook side on Saturday.

The Blue won the toss and decided to bat first.

All-rounder Peter Cooper said the team had a clear game plan heading into the match, and it was something they've been working on all campaign.

"We struggled last year to get to the 40th over in nearly all our games, so this season we have made a considerable effort to do just that," he said.

They were successful in that aim, as they lost just three wickets prior to drinks, and increased their run rate after the break to finish with a total 6-152.

More than a third of that was made by Peter Turnbull, who dug in and fought his way to 49, eventually getting caught on the fence as he went for his eighth boundary.

Cooper was extremely positive about the young batsman's innings, calling it "unselfish".

The strong defence of Noman Jawaad was also a large factor in their ability to bat out the 40 overs, with the experienced campaigner steadying the ship at number three after the early dismissal of Andrew Reynolds.

Brach Strachan caused the biggest issues for the Blues with ball in hand, ending with figures of 3-7.

He was arguably man of the match as he also contributed 41 with the bat, although he was outscored in that innings by the ever-dependable Greg Sheehan.

The Blues took just three wickets and Cooper admitted they were struggling to adjust to life without Josh Cooper, who will be sidelined for approximately four more weeks after breaking his finger against Bushrangers in round six.

Merriwa went on to catch the total in only 22.1 overs, cementing its role as one of the competition's best sides.

Meanwhile for the Silver Slugs, they will be ruing a number of missed chances, as they suffered a 142-run loss to the Bushrangers.

Playing at Weeraman Field, Slugs' captain Jarrod Watts seemingly did the merciful thing by sending in the eight-man Belltrees-based side to bat first after he won the toss.

However, that backfired as three more Bushrangers, including representative players, arrived at the ground to make a full team.

One of those three was Broque Smith, who punished the Muswellbrook side by making 111 not out.

He credited his century to two things - the fast start of the openers, which was aided by dropped catches, and a bit of luck, by which he meant there were about seven dropped catches off his batting by his own count.

It wasn't all easy for him though, as he admitted to struggling to adapt to Jarrod Watts' bowling, with the Slugs' skipper going onto take three scalps.

It was always likely to be a bridge too far to hunt down such a total, and that proved to be a case as they were all out within 35 overs.

Watts and Kyle Eriksson top scored for the home side with 27 runs each, while Adam Moore was the innings' best bowler with three wickets.