The top four clash between Diamond Creek and Riverside was a dour struggle as the Creekers moved at a snail’s pace to 9/104 off 80 overs. Needing to win to shore up their finals position with challengers knocking on the door, the Creek was unable to break free of the paralytic bowling of Chris Salm (2/18 off 19 overs), Nick Austin (1/26 off 21) and Scott Gibbs (1/11 off 11).
Old Paradians have done their best to put the skids under Bundoora’s finals charge. Danny Hennessy (4/22) led the way for the Wolves as they skittled the Bulls for just 139. However the match received a late twist as Jason Kaminski landed three successive blows to tip the match back in Bundoora’s favour at 4/18 before stumps.
A return to form from Tim Wise saw Macleod finish their heavyweight bout against Montmorency in the solid position of 7/214. Wise (54) reached fifty for the fourth time this season to bankroll the reigning premiers’ batting effort.
Rosanna’s chances of stealing a finals berth have received a massive boost as the fifth-placed challengers claimed first innings points over Lower Eltham. Matt Macaulay and Nathan Pietsch (3/17) ensured that Lower Eltham posted a miserly 81, which Nick Carlton (50 not out) almost single-handedly reached. Rosanna declared at stumps after winning by seven wickets.
With this round’s results evaporating their finals chances, Epping posted a solid 167 against North Eltham. Bolstered by Anthony Licovski’s 51 and a 56-run fifth wicket stand between Aaron Amos (41) and Tom Emmins (34), the ’Pingers are in a good position to post a belated victory next week.
In a stunning day’s play that will doubtless raise more questions than answers, reigning runners-up Eltham finished within reach of ending Plenty’s unbeaten run. After a mind-bogglingly frustrating season, the ninth-placed Panthers tore through the Power’s batting. The top side was dismissed for just 94 and it was then their bowlers’ turn to feel the burn as Andrew Lamont and Taylann Luckman posted an unbeaten 67 for the first wicket.
After five straight defeats, Mill Park is looking to end the season on a high note against Research Eltham Collegians. The Tigers posted just 146 but late wickets to X had the Collegians reeling at 4/41.
With Mernda’s finals hopes hinging on defeating Heidelberg, Steve Solyom (61) and Stuart Wright (50) gave their side a real chance of stealing a top four spot at the death. Mernda will defend 202 next week, needing to win if they are to play finals.
There’s just no stopping Banyule, who have their clash with Lower Plenty in their control. Nick Murray (3/5) and Jeremy Hannan (3/14) tore through the shell-shocked Lions, who were all out for 65 off 63 overs. Banyule need 21 runs next week with eight wickets in hand to claim their sixth win in seven matches and all but guarantee a finals place.
Coming off a string of disappointing performances against top four sides, South Morang has made a bold start against Hurstbridge. The Lions compiled 9/177 declared with Srinil Pieris (43), Daniel Wilson (37) and Andy Salmon (33) top scoring.
After being dislodged from the top of the ladder by Hurstbridge, Panton Hill was determined to make a point against Whittlesea and did so in style: Glenn Motschall (82), Josh Barton (45) and Lachlan McInnes (34) piled on the runs in the Redbacks’ total of 6/252 declared before Ryder Hobbs (2/22) did some damage of his own on the Eagles, who limped to stumps at 4/48.
Greensborough’s red-hot pre-finals form continued with a comprehensive dismantling of Thomastown United. First innings points were in the ’Borough bag as Phil Gaynor (4/12) and Matt Crawford (4/15) were irresistible with the ball in hand. Trent Wellington then got in on the party, cracking an unbeaten 66 as his side eased to a huge win.
A shoot-out between Thomastown’s Liam Andrews (63) and Jake Cugnetto (42) and Laurimar’s Josh Deans-Draper (5/48) has the scene set for a dramatic finish next week. Thomastown reached 162 with Laurimar’s paper-thin finals hopes pending on a successful run chase.