PLACES in the Gippsland Cricket League senior and under 18 semi-finals were decided last Sunday.
Sale-Maffra had a bye in both grades, meaning the Sharks had to wait until results came through to see who they would be playing in finals.
Wins to Latrobe Valley and Traralgon in the seniors set-up a tantalising semi-final between the two association on January 17. The Wilddogs will play Bairnsdale in the other semi-final, while Leongatha and Sale-Maffra will fight it out in the consolation final.
Maffra and Leongatha, who went from making the grand final last season to not winning a game in the 2020-21 season.
There was better news for the Sharks’ under 18s and 15s teams, which qualified for the finals. Sale-Maffra will play Latrobe Valley for a place in both premiership deciders.
The Sharks women’s team consolidated its position at the top of the competition ladder with two rounds to go after defeating Bairnsdale.
Batting first at Stratford, the Sharks made 7-108, with Teagan Fairbrother scoring an unbeaten half-century. Leah Simpson bowled an economical 1-6 from four overs, as five of the six Bairnsdale bowlers took a wicket.
The Sharks did well defending a low total, and had Bairnsdale caught 38 runs short in the finish.
Abby Wrigglesworth and Tily Pendergast reduced Bairnsdale to 4-5 in a devastating opening spell, and from there, the match was something of a foregone conclusion.
Steph Barnett and Beckie Stevens provided some resistance with scores of 25 each, with Stevens hitting the only six of the match.
Wrigglesworth ended with 3-14 and Pendergast 2-13.
IN the seniors, Traralgon kept its unbeaten record intact and also secured a home final after downing Bairnsdale.
Making the long trip to Lindenow South, the Traralgon bowlers were able to rest their feet for a few hours after captain Lee Stockdale called correctly at the toss and elected to bat.
Stockdale scored 34 opening up, and received good support from Nathan Freitag who made 31. The pair combined for a 65-run partnership for the second wicket, but fell virtually straight after each other to see the score read 3-72.
Bairnsdale took advantage of this position, and had the Tornadoes 5-92 before an unbeaten 39 from Frank Marks saw the team post 9-169 from their allotted overs.
A remarkably deep batting card featured for Traralgon, with Jackson McMahon coming in at number eight with two first grade centuries and nine half-centuries to his name for home club Ex Students.
Ricky Tatnell (2-49) and Steve Bertino (3-34) led the way with the ball for Bairnsdale.
The home team’s response began well, getting to 0-33 before the innings headed south.
Stockdale came into the attack and reduced Bairnsdale to 3-34, claiming two of the top four batsman for globes. From there, things never really recovered, and Bairnsdale was bundled out for just 115.
Curtley Farley top-scored on 31, but was bereft of any support.
Stockdale finished with 3-23, and found contributions from Michael Warne (3-24) and Jimmy Pryde (2-33).
After scoring 203 not out and smashing 12 sixes the day before for Meerlieu, Bairnsdale captain Reagan Kyle batted at number 10 for obvious reasons.
LATROBE Valley made its way to the semi-finals after accounting for Leongatha.
Batting first at Morwell, Latrobe Valley built a number of steady partnerships to eventually register 7-246.
Morwell Tigers-Yinnar Raiders pair Liam Maynard and Brad Knowles were stand-outs in the top order, making 48 and 59 respectively. Traralgon West young gun Ihraam Zafar came in at number seven and scored 56 to help the side past the 200 mark.
Wickets were shared among the Leongatha bowlers, with Shiran Rathnayake ending with three scalps.
Leongatha found itself essentially one batting contribution short in reply, as a 45-run margin told the story. Rathnayake made 47 and captain Mitchell Clark 34, but frustratingly for the visitors, three other players in the top six got starts without converting.
Rhys Holdsworth finished the game with 5-28 to keep his staggering bowling record climbing. Luke Sumner was also effective, taking the big wickets of Tom Keily and Rathnayake.