Epping’s finals chances are on life support after an ugly mauling at the hands of ladder-leaders Riverside. Set an improbable 260 to win by the unbeaten ’Siders, Epping went down by 161 runs with scarcely a whimper to fall a game and a half outside the top four. Nick Austin (4/14), Tim Knox (3/38) and Andrew Villani (2/18) cut swathes through the ’Pingers.
Bundoora upset Diamond Creek by 16 runs to throw a curve ball into finals calculations. Defending just 158 against the third-placed Creekers, Bundoora summoned the depth of their resolve with Jason Kaminski (3/43), Ryan Eley (3/46) and Shupindar Taggar (2/19) delivering crucial spells. The win puts Bundoora a game out of the top four in fifth position with two very winnable games to go.
An unbeaten 57 from Robert Carr steered North Eltham home for their second victory of the season and put the Wanderers at arm’s length from the relegation zone. North Eltham defeated Lower Eltham by just three wickets in their pursuit of 114 with Carr carrying his bat the difference between victory and defeat.
Montmorency clung to a heart-stopping eight-run victory against an Old Paradians outfit that played out of their skins to chase 189. Twice, the Wolves were in a position to collapse only to rally with partnerships as Shaun Barker (56 not out) and Matt Del Mastro (38) brought their side agonisingly close to what would have been their finest win of the season.
Macleod held firm at the death to claim a crucial win against crosstown rivals Rosanna. The Eagles staggered at times in chasing 112 but a middle order knock of 31 from Tim Wise gave them just enough breathing space to squeak home by three wickets and hold their top four spot.
There’s no sign of the Banyule train stopping as the Bears bolstered their finals chances and landed another blow to that of Eltham’s with a 156-run win. Mick Hannan (3/18) and Brent O’Connor (3/20) came home with the best figures as Banyule claimed their fifth win from six starts.
The Lalor Stars received a meteoric boost up the ladder with an outright thrashing of Mill Park. Having already conceded first innings points, the Tigers declared at 9/156 to set the Stars 151 to win off 24 overs. In a herculean batting display that the Stars have sorely missed this season, they did it in the nick of time for the loss of just two wickets.
Stuart Wright’s 70 sealed the deal on Mernda’s shock win over Lower Plenty. Wright played a lone hand but ensured that his bowlers’ best efforts were not wasted as his side reached 137 with three wickets in hand. The win puts Mernda in fifth place tied on points with fourth-placed Heidelberg.
Research Eltham Collegians followed through on an outstanding batting performance to defeat Heidelberg by 66 runs. Josh Turner claimed three wickets including the all-important scalp of Peter Cashen for 70 as Heidelberg fell to 190 all out in a loss that has them still fourth but now nervously looking over their shoulder.
For the second week in a row, Hurstbridge claimed bragging rights over a top four rival to maintain their position atop the ladder. After beating Greensborough by four wickets, the ’Bridgers defeated Panton Hill by five wickets after Charith Jayaweera (4/16) and Nick Blackwood (4/22) engineered a massive Redback batting collapse.
Whittlesea stunned South Morang to give themselves the faintest glimmer of hope of snatching a finals berth at the death. Nuwan Poojitha (49) led a dynamic top order performance that buffeted its way to a total of 6/196 that South Morang never seriously threatened. The Eagles now sit two games outside the top four, needing to win both matches and overcome the Lions’ percentage to nail a top four spot.
Laurimar levelled a challenge at Greensborough and the ’Borough didn’t blink. Jake Zarella (49) top scored in Laurimar’s score of 177 but third-placed Greensborough made short work of the run chase, winning by six wickets with 15 balls remaining.
Thomastown United made it two from two over crosstown rival Thomastown this season. After restricting Thomastown to just 4/140 off their 40 overs, Thomastown United was led to a four-wicket win by a string of top order batsmen with Nick Fellows (37) top scoring.