WITH their first win in the bag, Greater Illawarra will look to build on that momentum at the Country Championships on Saturday.
Greater Illawarra started their campaign on the right foot in Goulburn, surviving a thriller against Western Cricket Zone on Friday.
They had to do it the hard way. Chasing 211 for victory, Greater Illawarra wrapped up victory with just two wickets and three balls to spare.
New coach Dean Merola believes the win will give his side plenty of confidence, but they will need to "improve by 50 per cent" when they face ACT Southern Zone on Saturday.
"We probably made harder work of it than we should have but we showed a bit of ticker to get over the line," he said.
"I think it's a good win for us, some teams in the past might not have got over the line: they might have felt the pressure.
"We calculated it [the run chase] pretty well. I just don't think we needed to leave it that late.
"I think we'll be on a better deck tomorrow, a nicer pitch with a nicer outfield.
"And we can improve 50 per cent on today though, we just weren't at our best. We did enough to win, but we can do a lot better."
Under a beaming sun at Prell Oval, Western Cricket Zone batted first on Friday and were restricted to a total of 210 from 48.1 overs.
Mitch Bower was the standout batsman with a quick-fire 63, while Kerrod White took 3-12 for Greater Illawarra. Rhys Voysey and Eric Dernhartog picked up two wickets apiece.
In reply, Greater Illawarra were in early trouble, losing openers Kerrod White and Tate Nunn to slump to 2-24.
"However, a 98-run partnership between Brynley Richards and Ryan Maguire got the team back on track.
After Maguire fell for 53, Richards pushed on to score 69, before a mature 30 not out from Elliott Brookes guided them to victory.
"I think our batting was better than our bowling, the bowling probably wasn't up to our usual standards," Merola said.
"It wasn't a great deck to be batting on but we thought 210 was very achievable: we just had to time our innings.
"I just think our shot selection at times was poor and there were probably a few balls that we could have done better with.
"We lost a few wickets in the middle and put some pressure on the lower order, but Elliott Brookes was outstanding. He did well to guide us home.
"With three or four balls left, it probably went a bit closer than it should have. But we got there and they held their nerve really well."
Greater Illawarra captain Kerrod White said it was a mature win from his team.
"At the end of our bowling innings, we took four wickets in six balls and that put us in good stead to know that we can compete in those tough situations, and that showed at the end of our batting as well," White said.
"It would have been a much worse feeling to lose that game of cricket. But for some young guys to stand up and get us over the line was great.
"Tomorrow, we should be better, especially if our top order sets the game better up than they did today."