BEARS BOUNCE BACK, PANTHERS POUNCE AND GRIFFENS FLY
By Richard Millott
The Race for the Finals has heated up after a dramatic Round 10, with no less than 7 teams still a chance of playing cricket into March.
Upwey travelled to The Basin looking to cement themselves into the finals by chasing the Bears’ 222. Matt Mulcahy reached 39 to help kick off the chase prior to departing at 1/56, before Kyle Snyman (20) and Julian Whetstone (57) saw the Tigers to 2/114 after 50 overs. What looked like solid foundations were undone by Jake Sherriff (3/43) and Blake Walter (5/40), who between them wrapped up the reply, the Bears getting on a roll claiming 8/66 between them to dismiss Upwey for 180. The Bears sit 12 points clear on top of the ladder with 2 rounds to go, whilst for Upwey the Tigers slip out of the Top 4 back to 5th place.
Eildon Park made light work of the remaining target at Knoxfield, finishing the day early at 4/106. After Cody Morris’s 36 last week, Josh Dowling (30) was the only wicket to fall on day 2 as the Panthers wrapped up the play. The Panthers now jump into the Top 4 after 3 straight wins including against Top-2 opposition, whilst for the Knights they fall to third on percentage.
Ferntree Gully Footballers gained on the Knights’ misfortune, the Griffens jumping to second on the ladder after accounting for Ferntree Gully. Chasing the Blue’s 191. A second-ball wicket had the home team in good spirits, and shortly after the Griffens were 2/16. However Cohen McElroy (83*) and Radhik Gooneratne (80) put on 139 for the next wicket to set the tone. The visitors soon wrapped up the match, hitting 3/192 from 60 overs. The Griffens are now 0.3% ahead of Knoxfield, whilst Ferntree Gully will be looking for a much-needed win to avoid 10th place.
Johnson Park prevailed over Upper Ferntree Gully, dismissing the Kings 27 runs shy of the required target. Set 269 for victory, Ryan Carter (52) led the push, with Jay Colee (47) further pushing the cause. But for the Sharks, Sam Shearer claimed 3/55 to dismiss Upper Ferntree Gully for 241. The Sharks maintain the pressure on the Top 4, sitting in 6th place just 0.3% from a finals berth. Meanwhile Upper Ferntree Gully will be looking to secure their spot in Norm Reeves Shield, currently in 9th, 0.04% ahead of their cross-town rivals.
Knox Garden’s faint finals hopes remain, remaining a mathematical chance for finals after defeating Belgrave. Chasing the Pies’ 211 from last week, It was a day to remember for Peter Dunlop, reaching an undefeated 90 alongside Mitch Gregory (48) to secure the points, reaching 7/212. Thyler Argoon lead the charge for the Pies, his 4/51 the pick of the bowling. The Falcons sit 16 points behind calculations and would require an outright win over Upper Ferntree Gully next round, a final round victory over Ferntree Gully and results to go their way in order to play in March. For Belgrave, they remain a game clear of relegation battle, sitting in 8th place 3 matches behind Knox Gardens in 7th.
In Decoite Shield, Mountain Gate had a day to forget against a dominant Lysterfield. After the Beavers reached 4/340 last week, they dismissed their visitors for just 35, with Lachlan Dobson claiming 7/20 as part of a 10-wicket match, with Tim Chivers claiming 3/13. In the second effort, Cameron Cosstick (4/24) and Dobson (3/20) again caused grief, claiming a full 10 points by dismissing the Gators for 60. The Beavers now sit 16 points clear, with a maximum potential of 16 points available to the chasing pack.
Olinda took honours in the battle of the Mountain, with Taf Kamungozi staring in their victory over Monbulk. With 221 on the board, the Swans saw off the visitors, who were well served by Jason Fraser (54). But again it was Kamungozi who stamped authority on the match, claiming 6/72 from his 30 overs to dismiss Monbulk for 181. The win sees Olinda jump to 7th place as part of 3 teams now locked on 18 points. For Monbulk, the Hawks slip to third on the ladder.
South Belgrave were able to capitalise on the Hawks’ loss, assuming second place following a win over fellow Top 4 aspirants Knox Gardens. The Falcons were looking to reel in South’s 232, with Jay Wagner leading the scorecard with 46. However Cameron Smith (4/51) and Mark Baker (3/28) had other ideas for South, eventually dismissing the visitors for 147. Knox Gardens remain in 4th place, a game inside the Top 4 with 2 rounds remaining.
Rowville’s late season push continued, defeating St Johns Tecoma. Setting after the Hawks’ 259, the Saints’ Jake Sali (66) continued his fantastic form of starts, whilst Trent Pitts reached 48. Tom Nash took 5/28 to claim the win for the Hawks, who were dismissed for 217. Rowville now aquires 5th place a game outside of the 4, with St Johns Tecoma a game back in 6th place.