Harwood batsman Ben McMahon during the Harwood and Brothers CRCA premier league cricket match at McKittrick Park, South Grafton on Saturday, 25th February, 2017.
Harwood batsman Ben McMahon during the Harwood and Brothers CRCA premier league cricket match at McKittrick Park, South Grafton on Saturday, 25th February, 2017. Debrah Novak

PREMIER LEAGUE: Harwood knocked off top spot

CRICKET: Despite a fighting mid-innings cameo from all-rounder Ben McMahon, Harwood has been dealt its first setback for the North Coast Premier League season.

The Lower Clarence juggernaut were knocked off the top of the ladder after going down to the undefeated Sawtell in a comfortable six-wicket win at Richardson Park.

Mark Ensbey (40) led the way at the top of the innings with an almost run-a-ball knock, but he was the only top order batsman to fire after regular run-makers Nathan Ensbey (11) and Harry Bird (0) were removed in the same over by Sawtell seamer Pat Myles (3 for 25 off 6).

It would be left to McMahon to rebuild the Harwood innings with an unbeaten half century also notching a 49-run fourth-wicket stand alongside all-rounder Doug Harris.

But McMahon would continue to run out of partners at the other end with a late-innings collapse, led by the bowling of Isaac Hillery (3 for 20 off 4), seeing Harwood lose 6-28 to end up 9-145 after 40 overs.

It was a relatively easy run chase for the Sawtell side, after opener and wicketkeeper Trent Mitchell (60) took an early liking to Harwood seamers Mark Valette and Brandon Honeybrook, pushing the run-rate beyond a run-a-ball.

Mitchell also combined well with captain Richie Gallichan (34*) in a 57-run third-wicket partnership as the reigning Coffs Harbour District premiers took the game away.

The strong showing by Sawtell is a worrying sign for Coutts-Coffs Colts who will head to Richardson Park to meet the table-toppers this weekend, while Harwood will aim to bounce back in a big way against Star Hotel Nambucca Valley at Harwood Oval.