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By Richard Millott

After a strong display on Day 1, Eildon Park saw off the challenge from Knoxfield in the Preliminary Final to book their first Norm Reeves Shield Final appearance since 2014/15.

With 278 on the board, the Panthers struck early to have the Knights reeling at 3/24 before Zac Wilson and Daniel Beyer restored balance. The duo put on 79 runs before Wilson departed on 40, and Beyer shortly after for 49 to leave the visitors chase at 5/114. Monto Perera was the thorn in the side of the chase as he entertained the Panther faithful at Eildon Parade, his 3/58 from 24 overs helping to dismiss the reigning Premiers for 168. Eildon Park will now travel to Batterham Park Reserve next weekend to face off against The Basin in the decider.

In Decoite Shield, South Belgrave are through to play Lysterfield after defeating Rowville in their Preliminary Final. Set 229 to win, the Hawks were off to a solid start with Andrew Baird (31) and James Rogers (45) seeing them to 3/94. South’s bowling stocks then kicked into gear to take away the match for their own, with efforts from Mark Baker (3/25 from 24.4 overs, including 9 maidens) and Harley McDermott (4/49 from 22 overs) bringing a swift end to the match, South claiming 6/26 to dismiss the visitors for 153.

Knoxfield are the Division 3 Premiers after a 500-run decider against The Basin. Even with 5/282 on the board, the Knights still had a challenge on their hands against the solid Bears attack, with Adam Maloney (2/11) striking to remove both openners at 2/51. The Bears middle order achieved starts, with Trent Phillips making the most progress on the scoresheet – his 89 runs including 6 fours and 4 sixes. Phillips’ departure left the Bears at 6/202, however Brett Holst (4/50 off 18 overs) and Trent Evans (3/76 off 31 overs) ripped through to claim the next 3 wickets for just 8 runs, Evans’ last wicket ensuring the Premiership at Carrington Reserve.

Rowville narrowly steered past Knox Gardens to claim the flag in Division 4. Looking ot overhaul the Falcons’ 5/265, Trevor Wood impressed from the outset, reaching a pivotal 148 after opening the batting. His runs were countered by the Falcon bowlers who made breakthroughs to keep the match evenly balanced. Wood departed at 7/237, and a grandstand finish was in store as the home team had the Hawks at 9/248 before Ryan Arnell (22*) and Matt Logan (1*) guided the Hawks to the honours with just 3 balls to spare at 9/268.

A 1-wicket Premiership win was close, but the Division 5 Final was even closer as Knox City became Premiers after a tie with Knoxfield. Resuming from 2/117, the Tigers were well served by Craig Obrien who reached 100 before retiring out. Mark Stewart (3/24) and David Plumridge (3/44) both claimed wickets for the Knights to have the home team at 9/223 by the end of their 70 overs. The Knights, resuming from 3/86, continued as Brodie Paroissien and Mark Stewart both reached 49 in their innings as the Knights sat at 5/158. Greg Paroissien reached 31 to help the visitors closer as the Tigers and the Knights reached a tie by the end of the 70th over.

Division 6 action saw Rowville hold on against Monbulk to be crowned Premiers. Rowville carried on from 2/107 but it was Monbulk who struck early, removing the next 3 batsmen for 10 runs to be 5/117. Rowville pushed through the innings, eventually dismissed for 182. At 3/88, Monbulk carried on towards the required runs, reaching 5/172 needing another 11 runs against the determined Rowville bowlers. But then the game was turned on its head thanks to Suji Rajapakse. His 4/27 from 13.4 overs taking the contest away as Monbulk lost 4/0 to be precariously at 9/172. Still, Monbulk came in a push towards the Premiership, however fell short as they were dismissed for 179, Rowville Premiers by just 3 runs.

The Basin are Division 7 Premiers after accounting for Ferntree Gully. The Bears carried on from 2/110 with Vito Blangiardo reaching 75 as part of 6/170. A number of starts down the order had the Bears at 221 by the fall of the final wicket. The Blues lost Jackson Hallo early for 31 to be 4/112, with a defiant innings by Nicholas Hallo (41*) showing resistance to the Bears attack. Chris Aaltonen lead the way to the Premiership, his 5/37 a key feature of the scorecard along with Jai Armstrong (3/39), the duo dismissing the Blues for 178.

Upwey had a short day in dismissing Belgrave in the Division 8 Final. The Pies sat at 5/85 overnight in chase of Upwey’s 4/127, however the Tiger bowlers woke up hungry for a medal with an economical performance along with wickets providing an early end to the day as the Pies were all out for 111. Ryley Hannagan claimed 3/29 as the lead bowler of the attack.

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