SALE-Maffra appears certain to finish on top of the Gippsland Cricket League senior ladder, after the Sharks defeated fellow top two aspirant Traralgon and District at Heyfield on Sunday.
After losing the toss and being given the ball, Sale-Maffra struck an early blow against a depleted Traralgon outfit, which had nine changes from its previous match.
Players missing for Traralgon included Jordy Gilmour and Lee Stockdale, who were both on duty for Victoria Country.
Stumbling to 6-45, Traraglon was able to grind out a score of 107, thanks largely to Rick Battista, who compiled 39.
All Sale-Maffra bowlers utilised the overhead conditions to good effect, with wickets shared between Jack Tatterson (3-10), Charlie Morrison (3-24), and Isaac Love, who has a happy knack of picking up wickets, finishing with 2-20.
In reply, a stunning return of 4-31 from 18-year-old debutant Mitch Bulmer had Sale-Maffra in disarray early, before the Sharks composed themselves and chased down the Traralgon total for the loss of five wickets.
In the finish, middle order bat Ben Jones was the difference. After a chance off his bat was grassed, Jones scored an unbeaten 48 to guide the Sharks across the line.
On reflection, Traralgon player Luke Henderson said inexperience was a factor in the result, but paid credit to Sale-Maffra for its performance.
“They bowled extremely well and put us under a mountain of pressure, but hopefully with the way the other games went it doesn’t cost us too dearly,” Henderson said.
A MAJOR collapse by Warragul gave Leongatha its first win of the season.
The Wild Dogs lost 7-40 to leave their players and supporters shell-shocked.
With Warragul sending Leongatha in to bat at Hallora, the Wild Dogs found immediate success when they had Leongatha 2-9, including the prized scalp of Eli Rchards for a golden duck.
From there, Leongatha decided consolidation was its best friend, with Callum Honeyman batting two hours for his 33, as the visitors saw out their allotted 50 overs to close at 7-140.
Warragul’s best bowlers were Troy Lehmann, who finished with 4-34, along with AK Tyrone and Max Kelly, who both only went for 15 and 14 runs respectively from their 10 overs.
With the previous week’s rainfall, all present at the ground would have assumed conditions were going to play a part in the match, however Warragul put on a solid opening partnership of 50 to set itself off on a positive foot before disaster struck.
After Troy Ferguson had compiled 32 and Jack Armour was dismissed with the score at 2-75, the next eight Warragul batsmen contributed 18 runs between them to leave captain Fraser Duncan stranded on 41 as he watched on from the non-striker’s end in disbelief.
Three ducks highlighted the Wild Dogs middle order as they were bowled out with five runs separating the two sides.
Jack Ginanne was the destroyer for Leongatha, with exuberant celebrations following all six of his wickets. He received good support from Senal De Silva and Charith Keerthinsinghe, who both claimed two wickets each.
Leongatha player Ryan Williams, who found himself playing against two brothers and two brothers-in-law, was happy to take the points in what was a match played in tough conditions.
“We scrapped together a score and Warragul were cruising and then a few of their guys got out playing big drives,” Williams said.
“We bowled well but it was as much about shot selection from a few Warragul bats that helped us across the line.”
THE match between Latrobe Valley and Bairnsdale turned out to be a waste of time, as players came off the field twice because of rain before the game was declared a draw after three hours of waiting.
With overhead skies to start the day at Churchill, Latrobe Valley won the toss and elected to bat, only to see the ball hoop at right angles to make life virtually impossible for the batsman.
After three wickets had fallen, and the score at 3-16, umpires called for the covers as rain began to pour.
For the next hour and a half players entertained themselves by playing cards and discussing what they would rather be doing.
When play resumed, it was only shortlived, as rain returned and the game was abandoned after 18 overs.
The only highlight came when Bairnsdale bowler Corey Fraser found himself on a hat-trick, after knocking over two quick wickets in the opening stages.
With all four Latrobe Valley wickets to fall being bowled, opener Tim Fitch said that it was tough to score as batsman had to compensate for so much movement both off the pitch and through the air.
“Because the ball was doing so much you were never going to snick off , every time you played and missed you were missing it by at least a foot,” he said.