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By Richard Millott

Perfect conditions greeted teams for the opening weekend of the Ferntree Gully & District Cricket Association, with several players showing the rewards of a solid pre-season.

Joe Morsello was the rock of the Knox Gardens innings against Eildon Park, producing an opening-round century. The Panthers looked up-and-about early, with the home side 2/32 from the opening 15 overs. Morsello then teamed up with Adam Wylde shortly after with the duo taking the score past 4/174 at the 65 over mark, Wylde dismissed for 43. Morsello continued on, reaching triple figures with 10 overs remaining and continuing through to remain unbeaten on 135 not out as the Falcons finished the day at 7/276.

At Fairpark, an Aaron Brunner century helped Belgrave to a competitive total in their encounter with Johnson Park. Winning the toss and batting first, Brunner’s 108 provided stability to the Magpie’s attack, well supported by debutant Jarrod McPhee with 79. For the Sharks, Coby Law (4/44) and Mitch Ley (3/44) lead the attack with the ball with pace the order of the day.

Sajana De Silva was impressive in his debut for Upper Ferntree Gully in their match against Ferntree Gully Footballers. De Silva claimed 7/51 with his off spin to hamper the Griffens, however efforts in the middle order from Nick Bogar (67) and Kuldeep Sidhu (64) – including a 127-run 5th wicket partnership – helped to set a total of 264 for the Kings to chase next week.

Lysterfield made the most of their return to Norm Reeves Shield, with the Beavers dismissing Upwey for 147. Matt Mulchay (62) and Cameron Wheeler (33) scored the bulk of the runs for the Tigers, but it was Brad Paull (4/39) and Adam Kinniburgh (3/25) who were affecting the scoresheets most. The Tigers struck back later in the day, with Wheeler claiming 3/14 as the Beavers reached stumps at 3/38.

Trent Schofield returned to the Knoxfield lineup and instantly showed his form with the bat, hitting a half century for the Knights. It was a nightmare start for the visitors against the reigning premiers, losing 4/12 in the opening stanza before Schofield (85) and Zac Wilson (30) helped steady the ship. Still, with the Bears tenacious with the ball – highlighted by Joey Hawke’s 3/40, runs were hard to come by with Knoxfield dismissed for 189.

In Decoite Shield, South Belgrave has claimed the opening points of the season after dismissing St Johns Tecoma. Rob Barry (4/6) and Todd Burley (3/39) ran rampant with the ball as the Saints could not find an answer, dismissed for 98. In Reply, South reached the target across the afternoon and more. Daniel Cormack (66) and Mark Baker (40) lead the way despite Luke Hands’ efforts with the ball, claiming 3/31 for the Saints as the home side reached 9/187 at stumps.

Monbulk assembled a competitive score thanks to a team effort showing against Olinda. Justin Creed (69) and Lomax Medallist Shane Cosstick (61) featured prominently for the Hawks in an innings with several contributions towards the final score of 241. Dominic Woodfield was the pick of the bowling for the Bloods, claiming 3/39.

Mountain Gate had a positive day at Wally Tew Reserve against Ferntree Gully. Mitch Goddard (36) lead the way from the top however runs came from the middle order in the form of Sanitha De Mel (42) and debutant Daniel Shaw (42). The Gators reached 9/217 at days’ end, hampered by Jason Kilby who claimed 3/21 for the Blues from 17 overs.

Rowville bowled at Knox Gardens all day at Seebeck Reserve, with the Falcons dismissed for 164. Hayden Morrison (38) and Callum O’Connor (32) got good starts however Brett Gatehouse (3/27) helped the Hawks with the ball as required to maintain the batting lineup.

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