SALE-Maffra confirmed its status as the team to beat in the Gippsland Cricket League during the penultimate round, inflicting Warragul with an embarrassing loss at Hallora.
After electing to bat first, the Wild Dogs ended up with a score sheet which resembled more of a telephone number than a competitive total, as they were shot out in the 29th over for a poultry 56.
Jack Armour with 22 was the only batsman to reach double figures, with extra’s second top-scoring on eight, as his team lost virtually 10-35 after the opening wicket yielded 21 runs.
All six Sale-Maffra bowlers chimed in with wickets, with their best performer being Ben Jones, who took 4-11.
The Sharks then made a mockery of the Warragul innings, coasting to victory in the seventh over for the loss of two wickets.
Jones again delivered for Sale- Maffra, as he dispatched five fours to remain unbeaten on 30 at the end of the match.
Warragul captain Fraser Duncan was at a loss to explain his side’s performance, simply stating that his team “could not bat”.
“We had a few out being so close to Christmas and the wicket was a bit dry as the covers had been on since Wednesday but we just batted like space cadets,” he said.
With the Drouin area copping torrential downpours last week one could assume a number of Warragul players played the “rain card” and obviously paid a heavy price for assuming there would be no cricket across the weekend.
LATROBE Valley registered its first win as an association, returning home from Wonthaggi with the points over Leongatha.
Bowling first, Latrobe Valley struck an early blow before Sam Huitema (46) and David Newman (34) combined for a 74-run partnership for the second wicket.
From 2-91, Leongatha suffered a middle order collapse, thanks to Ross Allen’s left arm orthodox spinners proving a handful, as the Irishman ripped through the top order to see Leongatha in trouble at 4-100.
Walter Taberner got things back on track with the blade, scoring 38 to see Leongatha close their innings at 8-185. Allen finished with figures of 5-31 to be the stand-out, while Lewis Harper and Ryan Ayres each took two wickets.
In response, Latrobe Valley got home in the second last over, in what was a run chase which produced no major partnerships, but more a series of handy ones to see them across the line.
Ayres and Harper backed up their efforts with the ball, scoring 26 and 37 not out respectively, while Brendan Mason gave his rivals no ammo, top-scoring with 40.
Leongatha’s best bowlers were Kit Rotthier and Charith Keerthisinghe, who finished with four wickets between them.
Latrobe Valley opening bat Jesse Giardina said it was pleasing to see a good contribution across the board in the association’s first winning GCL side.
“Not a great deal happened, people chipped in and Maso (Brendan Mason) batted well,” he said.
THE match between Bairnsdale and Traralgon at Wy Yung came down to the wire, with the visitor claiming victory and making it hard for Bairnsdale to reach the final.
Welcoming back key players Adrian Burgiel, Lee Stockdale and Jordy Gilmore, Traralgon elected to have a hit upon winning the toss.
After losing an early wicket, Burgiel took the Bairnsdale bowlers to task, smacking a typically attacking 36 at the top of the order.
With the Traralgon side precariously placed at 3-67, Jordy Gilmore combined with Jackson McMahon for a 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket, to see their side out of troubled waters.
Gilmore put in a good performance with the bat, scoring 62 as the Traralgon tail wagged, closing at 9-209.
The wickets were shared among the Bairnsdale bowlers, with Luke Endley finishing with three, while Ben Saxon and Ricky Tatnell each took two.
The home side then came agonisingly close to the required total, falling just seven runs short in a pulsating climax.
After losing a number of key wickets early, Bairnsdale looked well behind when the scoreboard read 5-93, with only Dylan Jordan’s 26 having much impact. However, as the game progressed and the field spread, Bairnsdale leaked out runs from the middle and lower order, with Lee Thomason (30), Saxon (38) and Brayden McCarrey (28) taking the game right to the edge.
With 13 required from three overs, Traralgon’s prayers were answered when a timely maiden was bowled from Danny Revis (4-43), which then netted the winning wicket when Chris Lehner secured a stumping to see Bairnsdale all out for 203.
Traralgon player Luke Henderson said his side was fortunate to come away with the points, after making hat they felt was a par score batting first.
“The result could have gone either way, but Revis bowling an amazing maiden toward the end gave us an opportunity and was probably the reason we won,” he said.
With one game to go Bairnsdale will need to defeat Sale-Maffra and rely on a Traralgon loss against Leongatha in order to reach the final and defend its title.