A stunning 95-run ninth-wicket stand between Daniel O’Leary and Jack Roberts saw Macleod snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by a wicket against Plenty. The Power motored along to 3/189 with Mitchell Johnson (61) continuing to prove himself as one of Barclay’s best batsmen and then the bowlers went to work as the Eagles collapsed to 8/94. Against all odds, O’Leary (50) and Roberts (35) produced a match winning partnership to give Macleod a top four place at the halfway point of the season.
With its unbeaten run under threat, Diamond Creek’s bowlers came out all guns blazing against Bundoora to guarantee their side a top of the ladder place over the Christmas break. After being left to defend a mere 136, Luke Campitelli (4/23), Mark Keenan (3/23) and Ryan Tolley (2/16) helped the Creek see off yet another challenger as the Bulls were all out for 119.
Riverside faces an uphill battle to make finals after losing its fourth match to Epping by 27 runs. Andrew Bennett (47) and Tom Emmins (33) helped Epping along to healthy 162 before a relentless and deep bowling effort plucked Riverside out for 135 to gift the Pingers a top four position over Christmas.
Lower Eltham has vaulted North Eltham with a six-wicket win at Eltham Lower Park. The Kangaroos made a chase of 177 look straightforward with Ishan Pathirage (64) and Dananjaya Fernando (59) playing superb one-day cricket innings to deliver their side its second win of the season.
Rosanna kept itself within reach of the top four with a six-wicket win over Montmorency. Houss Almatrah (38) and Matt Simpson (34) got their side off to a strong start in a lowly run chase to wrap the match up in the 35th over.
Eltham clinched its third win by nine wickets over the fast-fading Mill Park. Andrew Lamont (73) continued his fine season with the bat and almost single-handedly erased any chances of an upset after the Panthers had skittled the Tigers for 117.
Bundoora United provided the upset of the round by breaking the Lalor Stars’ unbeaten run at NJ Telfer Reserve. The Stars’ batting was cut down to size by Scott Barnett (4/13) and Lee Solar (2/15) and Corey Cogan hit 52 as his side romped to a four-wicket win with ten balls to spare.
Heidelberg remains very much in competition for a top four spot after routing Mernda. Callum Gogerly (3/20), Christian Kostakis (2/12) and Jack Ridewood (2/13) moved through the Mernda batsmen for a miserly 100 runs and once Justin Whitcher (37) and Lewis Balcombe (33 not out) had posted 74 for the first wicket, the result was as good as done.
Lower Plenty and Greensborough were locked in a dead-heat at Greensborough War Memorial Park. The Lions posted 6/152 off their 40 overs, a position that had looked beyond them after falling to 6/77. Greensborough started well and at 184 it seemed it would prevail. However, the wickets started falling and the runs dried up: a middle order collapse of 5/12 threw the match into chaos again. In the end, Greensborough ran out of not wickets but time, reaching 9/152 off its 40 overs.
Banyule re-emphasised its flag credentials with a nine-wicket thrashing of Old Paradians. The Hannon brothers Mick (4/2) and Jeremy (3/30) were in irrepressible touch with the ball as the Paradians staggered to 125. It would have been foolhardy to consider the match won there and then but Banyule opener Jordan Samad was in a murderous mood – his unbeaten 62 set the tone as the Bears overhauled the Paradians’ total at a run rate of nearly one a ball.
South Morang and Research Eltham Collegians fought out a tie at Mill Park Lakes. The Lions prised out the crucial wicket of Collegians’ captain Josh Turner with 10 runs still required for victory and pulled off a tie to keep their finals hopes alive.
Hurstbridge took the match well beyond Whittlesea with the bat, amassing 8/187 to be assured of victory before the bottom-placed Eagles had even picked up the willow. The win keeps the Bridgers in fourth position going into the Christmas break.
Laurimar’s openers Jake Zarella (51) and Ash Williams (82) kept their side’s hot streak rolling with a powerful stand. The pair laid the foundation for Laurimar to make 239 against Thomastown, a total that Chris Marienfield defended with a four-wicket haul.
Thomastown United defeated the previously unbeaten Panton Hill by eight wickets in a massive boilover at AE Cracknell Reserve. After holding the Redbacks to 149, United was brilliantly served by Sanka Wijegunarathne (53) and Steve Solyom (41) to win handsomely with eight wickets in hand.