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By Richard Millott

Knox Gardens did themselves no harm with the bat in their Qualifying Final performance against Lysterfield at Park Ridge Reserve.

The Falcons called true at the coin toss and elected to bat first, ticking over the scoreboard in the early overs to settle in at the crease. With drinks on the ground at 0/54, Joe Morsello and Pete Dunlop carried on after the break to frustrate the Lysterfield bowlers. An unbeaten century partnership was undone as Dunlop departed for 52 with the score at 1/113 in the 39th over. The visitors reached 1/123 as tea was taken after 47 overs.

The Beavers had their man soon after as Morsello was caught for 68, before the loss of another 2 wickets had the Falcons at 4/154 at the 59 over mark. Mitch Gregory helped keep the forward momentum on the Falcon’s push for runs, notching up 50 before the Beavers struck back removing 2 in 2 balls for the scoreboard to be at 6/226 in the 72nd over. Some quality bowling across the day from Lachlan Dobson (4/49) and Adam Kinniburgh (4/54) helped Lysterfield to restrict the runs, with Knox Gardens concluding the day at 9/256 with a healthy score to bowl at on Sunday.

Meanwhile at Carrington Park Reserve, Knoxfield will require 200 to keep their season alive after The Basin took first use of the deck. Winning the toss, Scott Vozzo lead from the top with 63, including 5 fours and 3 sixed before departing at 2/95. A brief lull at the crease let the Knights claim middle order wickets, claiming 4/28 to have the Bears at 6/138. Joel Robertson (36*) helped to guide the visitors towards the final overs, enduring a spell by Matt Plumridge (4/37) to conclude the innings at 9/199.

In DeCoite Shield, Jayden Bradbury helped Ferntree Gully towards a competitive total against Monbulk. The Hawks struck early however Harrison Brown (32) and Jayden Bradbury teamed up to consolidate, with the score reaching 2/170 in an ominous sign for the hosts. However the fightback with the ball saw Monbulk claim 3/9, with Chris Martin (4/84) the instigator. Jason Kilby finished strongly for the Blues, finishing on 39 not out as the visitors reached 8/252.

Rowville’s run into March looks set to continue for at least another week after they dismissed Knox Gardens within a day at Knox Gardens Reserve. The Falcons were in an early arm wrestle with the visitors before the Hawks turned to trusted heads to deliver outcomes – Monto Perera sending down 26.2 overs to claim 4/64, whilst down the other end Darren Hill was at his frugal best, delivering 28 overs for a return of 4/30. Only Hayden Morrison was able to get a start for the Falcons, scoring 33 not out from nearly 3 hours at the crease. The Falcons went to the tea break at 7/85, with Morrison’s efforts helping the home team to 132. The Hawks commenced the run chase early, facing a 12-over stanza to finish the day at 0/26.

In Division 3, Dain Howe’s 38 was the highlight of Upwey’s innings against Eildon Park, with the Panther bowlers taking honours on the scoresheet. Howe took the Tigers to 3/61 before Joel Smith (4/40) and Adam Bronsgeest (3/43) bowled the Panthers into a strong position, dismissing the visitors for 145 late in the day. Scores for the Semi Final between The Basin and Ferntree Gully were unavailable.

St Johns Tecoma’s fortunes changed late on the opening day against Knox City in the Division 4 Semi Finals. The Saints ticked the scoreboard over without any individual getting away, with Jason Newman leading the scoring with 34. For the Tigers, Sanka Begg claimed 3/31 to lead the way with the ball as the visiting Saints were dismissed for 167. However there was drama still to come as the Tiger’s top order was reduced to a binary readout of 1’s and 0’s, ending play at 4/6 from 8 overs faced. Meanwhile, Monbulk posted 223 in their match against Rowville. Aaron Gillard (40) and Brian Martin (45) were the mainstays of the innings, with Harrison Cowan (4/38) leading the way with the ball for the Hawks.

Eildon Park are in a strong position in their Division 5 matchup with Ferntree Gully. Kynan Wilkins (57*) and Morgan Arundell (29*) remain unbeaten for the Panthers to finish their first phase at 0/101. The return phase saw the Blues fight back from 4/19 to end at 5/62, with Justin Delaney (27) to continue on Sunday. In the other Semi Final, it is equally poised between Monbulk and The Basin, with the Hawks sitting at 2/85 against the Bear’s 4/106.

Olinda’s Matt Holloway reached 42 for Olinda in their Division 6 match against Belgrave. Holloway was the backbone of the Blood’s 3/84, responding to the Magpie’s 3/56 from earlier in the day. Meanwhile, it’s even stevens between St Johns Tecoma and Lysterfield at Batterham Park #2. The Beavers scored 6/71 from their opening 35 overs, hampered by the bowling of Gary Grenda claiming 3/8. In reply, the Saints sit at 4/56.

Tim de Geest shone brightest for Knoxfield in the Division 7 Semi Final against Ferntree Gully Footballers at Pickett’s Reserve. The Griffens used the home ground advantage to post 3/74 from the 35 overs, before de Geest reached 46 not out after carrying the bat across the Day 1 phase. The Knights concluded at 4/90 in response. At Upwey, the Tigers will look to convert their remaining wickets into runs against The Basin. Upwey went through the first phase to finish on 6/77, courtesy of a contribution from Clayton Spooner (28). The Bears were able to keep pace thanks to Simon Brown (27*), finishing at 3/62.

Johnson Park have won through to the Division 8 Grand Final after a Day 1 victory over Ferntree Gully. Chirag Pindoriya (33*) and Vijay Vekaria (29*) lead the way for the Sharks to 2/103, before Vijay Vekaria (3/19) and Bhavtik Vekaria (3/16) struck to dismiss the Blues for 73. Meanwhile, Upper Ferntree Gully is ahead after their away trip to Silvan. The Kings posted 4/71 from their 35 overs, whilst Silvan responded to end the day at 7/87.

Knox Boronia Churches will host the B1 Grand Final next week after a dominant performance against Johnson Park. Nicholas Vincent claimed astonishing figures of 5/3 for the Burra’s from 5.3 overs, including 4 maidens, whilst support from Dale Cotton (3/7) helped to dismiss the visitors for just 54. The reply was comprehensive, locking in a Grand Final appearance in the 17th over at 4/61. Meanwhile, ladder-leaders St Johns Tecoma suffered a dramatic 1-run loss to Eildon Park at Talaskia Reserve. The Panthers were well served by Andrew Thomas (30), Mark Denny (36) and Tom Blanche (30) to post 9/153, with Brett Smith (3/27) the pick of the Saints bowling. In reply, Paul Adams (38) helped to recover the innings from 4/36, with Jayde Gray (51*) almost getting the home team across the line. Patrick Blanche (3/21) toiled hard for the Panthers to keep the visitors in the match all afternoon. However with the score at 9/152 needing 1 run to tie and progress, a catch by Brad Garbett denied the Saints of progression, allowing the Panthers to progress to take on the Burras for the Premiership next Saturday.

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