A REMARKABLE final round of Sale-Maffra twenty20 cricket has seen Stratford jump from fifth spot to second to book a place in next Tuesday’s division one final.
The Redbacks defeated Bundalaguah, who will also be their opponent for the premiership.
Both Stratford and Bundalaguah won three out of the five midweek matches played, to separate themselves from Collegians, Maffra and Boisdale-Briagolong, which created a logjam of teams which all finished the competition with two wins.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, the Redbacks’ innings got off to a decent start at Stratford Recreation Reserve, with Brayden McCarey scoring 35 from 24 balls at the top of the order.
From there, a number of small partnerships were formed, as skipper Jack Rietschel scored a rapid 27 from just 18 balls before Keenan Hughes came in and blasted a 20-minute 38 which saw three sixes disappear over the fence.
At compulsory close, Stratford compiled 7-152. International players lead the way with the ball for Bundalaguah, with Italian Shan Munsinghe and South African Cloete Buitendag each taking two wickets.
In reply, the Bulls were left to rue a number of players not capitalising on starts, with five batsmen getting to double figures before departing.
Nathan Hibbins was bereft of any support, scoring a half century opening the batting, as the Bulls fell 15 runs short.
The match between Longford and Maffra at Stephenson Park saw some poor batting by both sides as 15 wickets fell. It was a run chase the Eagles made harder work of than they should have.
The Lizards won the toss and decided to have a hit, but could only manage a mere 7-99 from their 20 overs as Josh Davis (3-21) and Zack Durrant (2-20) found their rhythm with the ball.
Maffra’s batting performance was then equally unimpressive, as it slumped to be 6-59 and facing the prospect of an embarrassing defeat. Had it not been for Grant Thornton scoring 36 at number seven, the Lizards may well have secured the points, but alas Maffra creeped across the line in the 18th over, albeit losing eight wickets in the process.
Boisdale-Briagolong was left devastated after going down to Collegians in a heart stopper at Catholic College Oval, in what was a match the Saints had to win to reach the final.
The Saints compiled a more than competitive score of 7-162, with Brad Peddar and Jack Wrigglesworth leading the way with scores of 61 and 70 respectively to put on 143 for the third wicket.
Collegians’ bowlers toiled away and were rewarded with a few scalps as the innings came to a close and the batsmen tried to hit out. Mark Nicholls (3-32), Tom Hams (2-27) and Jonty McGuiness (2-17) added to their seasonal tallies.
The run chase got off to a decent start for Collegians, with Stuart Anderson scoring a handy 34 against the new ball, while Elliot Durrant made a composed 58 at first drop.
With momentum ebbing and flowing, Nicholls backed up his efforts with the ball to remain unbeaten on 29, seeing his side home with four balls to spare.
For the Saints, young Tom Wrigglesworth shouldered responsibility with aplomb, taking 3-26 in what was a commendable display.
Sale had the bye.
STRATFORD will be a busy club next Tuesday, after its division two side also made the final following victory over Sale.
After being sent out to field, the Redbacks restricted the Swans to 8-100, as Josh Kiss ran through the Sale middle order to finish with four wickets. Only Kevin Stoddart with a score of 30 was able to offer any resistance, as the Swans lost 5-50 in the back half of the innings.
The Redbacks then took the game to the penultimate over, but did so for the loss of only five wickets as they did enough to secure victory.
Best bowler for Sale was Andrew Nicholas, who took 2-20 opening the attack.
An ordinary batting display by both Collegians and Bundalaguah saw the former somehow defend its total of 90 in a bizarre match at Colin Wrigglesworth Oval.
With extras second top scoring for Collegians after number nine batsman Chris Malone’s 18 not out, the team in blue and red lost 6-14 throughout the middle stages as Bulls bowlers Daniel Smart (2-5), Mitch Templeton (2-4) and Don Veale (2-18) all cleaned up.
Bundalaguah players may have been forgiven for thinking they would coast to victory, with only a small target to chase the equation was as simple as every batsmen making eight runs.
What transpired would have surely left onlookers shell-shocked, as the Bulls were bowled out for 67, losing their final eight wickets for 35 runs.
Extras top-scored for Bundalaguah with 17, with the highest score made by a batsman being 10 as Tom Glenn (4-9) and Nick Anderson (2-11) ran riot for Collegians to secure a miracle victory.
Heyfield had the bye and will play Stratford in the final.