Riverside had no interest in granting Montmorency its first win of the season as the reigning premier kept its faint finals hopes alive with a seven-wicket win. Chasing 157, the ’Siders’ top order dominated with Sean Money (63 not out), Scott Gibbs (53) and Chris Salm (50) erasing the Magpies’ total.
With the match on the line at 7/130 with Rosanna chasing 162, Jack Langford hit an unbeaten 38 to secure a three-wicket win and push his side into the top four. With no middle order batsmen left and Travis Baker (4/34) on song, Langford dug deep and carried his side to victory with Nathan Pietsch in support.
Lower Eltham celebrated a thrilling one-wicket upset win over Bundoora to keep within striking distance of the top four. Precariously poised at 2/10 at the start of the day in pursuit of 136, the Roos were given just enough breathing space by Jarrod Curtis’ knock of 42, which came just when the innings was floundering at 5/50.
Epping has taken a massive step towards throwing off its post-Christmas bogey with a 146-run thrashing of Plenty. A crack unit performance from Marcus Murphy (3/23), John Lever (2/11) and Rob Tinsley (2/12) saw the Power floored for just 92.
Macleod has become the latest side to fall to the Diamond Creek powerhouse as the Eagles fell 56 runs short of the Creek’s total of 244 as a middle order collapse of 3/1 proved fatal.
Mill Park has at last broken its duck with a six-wicket win over Greensborough. A dominant first day’s play meant the Tigers only had to hold their nerve to make a further 95 runs with all wickets in hand and Justin Lyon and Sajith Kalumpriya (39 each) ensured they did just that.
Heidelberg is still in touch with the top four and proved it could well be a force in finals after chasing down 257 against Eltham. Phil Cashen rose magnificently to the challenge with 124 after Justin Whitcher (67) had given his side a crucial building block from the outset. Heidelberg hit the final run with just three balls to spare to claim a three-wicket win.
Lower Plenty threw the top four into disorder with a thrilling two-run win over the ladder-leading Lalor Stars. After falling to 9/149 in pursuit of 175, a desperate 23-run tenth-wicket stand couldn’t save the Stars with John Kulikowski plucking his third and final wicket after bowling unchanged for the entire day.
Bundoora United continues to build an assault on the top four with a 57-run win over Old Paradians. The Bulldogs’ target of 252 drifted further and further out of the Paradians’ reach to keep Bundoora United within reach of the top four.
Banyule completed a stunning comeback against Mernda and was rewarded with first place on the ladder. The Bears started day two in the torrid position of 4/29 chasing 189 and when they moved to 7/103, the match looked to have reached its logical conclusion. However, an incredible 74-run ninth-wicket stand between Andrew Clapton (45) and Michael Hannan (37) brought Banyule to the brink of victory before Clapton finished the mission with Jeremy Hannan.
Whittlesea ended its drought and leapt off the bottom of the ladder with a 98-run win over South Morang. Rajitha Mendis took a bag of five wickets to splinter the Lions’ top order and ensure that the Eagles’ defence of 224 was never in doubt.
Research Eltham Collegians have tied at the top of the table with a ghost-exorcising one-wicket win against Panton Hill. A gritty 73-run sixth-wicket partnership between Will Purvis (64 not out) and Phil Zumbo (43) brought the Collegians to within nine runs of their target of 153 before a collapse brought on by Rick Ford (3/23) and Josh Barton (3/23) threw the match into chaos. It was up to Purvis to steer the ship through troubled waters for a memorable victory.
Lachlan McLellan’s maiden Mash Shield century ensured that Hurstbridge made light work of Laurimar’s total of 203. McLellan (124) boosted the Bridgers to an eight-wicket win that saw them take Laurimar’s third place on the ladder.
Thomastown United was untroubled to cruise past Thomastown’s total of 146 for its second consecutive win. United continued to bat to a lead of 74 with Stephen Solyom carving out 90; his side is now just half a match off fifth-placed South Morang.