WHILE there was no major upsets in round seven of Sale-Maffra cricket, the biggest surprise came by the margin of victory Stratford had over Sale.
The Redbacks destroyed the Swans – winning by 171 runs.
Sale made the decision to send Stratford in, and it appeared justified when the home side fell to 3-18.
Ben Channing rescued things again, playing a counter-attacking hand in the top order, scoring 44 from 39 balls.
Channing combined for a 98-run partnership with Jack Tatterson, who suited up for Stratford for the first time since crossing to Collegians five years ago.
Like Channing, Tatterson kept the runs flowing, making 50 from 55 balls.
The pair fell in quick succession to have the scoreboard reading 5-116. At that stage, Sale would have fancied its chances of keeping the Redbacks to less than 200, but was surely not prepared for what was to follow.
Stratford veteran Andrew Tatterson strolled to the crease at number seven just before drinks, and put on a clinic, peeling off an unbeaten 122 from just 71 balls.
In 90 minutes of mayhem, Tatterson belted 12 fours and four sixes, striking at an unbelievable rate of 180.
Such was the Tatterson onslaught, fellow left hander Chris Aurisch was forced to sit in the passenger’s seat during their 89-run partnership – of which Tatterson scored 67.
Stratford closed at 8-283, leaving Sale the daunting task of needing to score at seven runs an over.
Ben Jones took the key wickets of Redbacks coach Cormac Hassett and captain Taylor Tatterson early in the piece, but given what happened thereafter, those moments would have felt like a lifetime ago.
If the situation for Sale was already at danger levels when it went out to bat, things quickly turned to catastrophic.
Redbacks opening bowler Bohdi Walker had the golden arm, with two wickets to his name in the first over.
Walker began by bowling Rohan Blandford off the first ball of the innings, before seeing the back of Hayden Glover.
Andrew Tatterson could not be kept out of the game, taking the catch to give Walker his second wicket.
Amazingly, within two legal balls, Sale was 2-1 as a wide had been bowled between the two wickets.
With the Swans shell-shocked, their innings never really recovered, despite the best efforts of Jones, who valiantly tried to make a game of it by scoring 38 from 36 balls.
In the end the chase became insurmountable, and Stratford bowlers became vultures as wickets were shared around.
The Redbacks had the added luxury of knowing Sale would be looking mainly to defend, and was able to bring on some younger bowlers perhaps earlier than they otherwise would have.
Ethan Albrecht came on first change and bowled unchanged for eight overs and took 2-31.
Leg spinner Sam Anstee returned identical figures and helped himself to some championship points with a caught and bowled.
Last week’s hero Seb Pendergast finished with 2-9, while Walker ended with 2-12.
The Redbacks’ huge victory now sees them with a team batting aggregate 163 runs better than the next challenger.
MAFFRA kept its unbeaten season intact, defeating Longford by six wickets.
Bowling first, the Eagles were able to strike at regular intervals, as the Lizards struggled to build any partnerships higher than 20.
Longford saw off opening bowlers Daniel Bedggood and Nathan Magnuson, leading Maffra captain Josh Davis to turn to Zach Kearns. Kearns nabbed a wicket in his second over on the way to figures of 2-20.
Kerrod Macgregor-Davies scored 28 opening the batting, but was forced to shelve his usually attacking game style given what was happening around him.
Club president Brett McMaster led by example, scoring an unbeaten 32 from 36 balls.
Longford again batted outs its allotted overs, finishing on 8-105.
Hamish Nettleton took 2-6 and David Griffiths 2-9 for Maffra.
The Eagles chased the required total just after the drinks break, with Bedggood (35) and Davis (27 not out) ensuring the points.
Lincoln Rolfe finished with figures of 2-17.