AS the second month of the Sale-Maffra cricket season came to a close at the weekend, victories to Sale and Stratford appear to have firmed them as the early pacesetters in the competition.
Sale kept its undefeated run intact with a relatively straight-forward win over Rosedale-Kilmany.
The Swans returned from day one with 277 on the board, and found breakthroughs at regular intervals to bowl the Warriors out for 148.
After getting the job done with the bat the previous week, the Sale bowlers hit a consistently good area and made scoring difficult for Rosedale-Kilmany. Ben Jones was deadly with the new ball and took three of the first four wickets to fall, including the prized scalp of Rohan Diamond without scoring.
At 4-37, the Warriors were staring down the barrel of an early day, and things only got worse when Coenie Nel snuck one through Cameron Freshwater to see the scoreboard read 5-58. A follow up wicket to Nel saw the situation become diabolical for Rosedale-Kilmany, whose chances of winning were as good as gone at 6-80.
A small partnership in the middle stage of the innings between Hayden Glover and Dylan Rowley chewed up some time, before a mix-up saw Glover run out, with Jones and Nel again involved.
Brad Scott arrived late and would have received quite a shock as he drove into the ground to see the score at 7-115. Scott did his best to farm as much of the strike with the tail, but could only do so much as John Mayman was brought on late to finish the job.
Mayman took the final three wickets and walked off with figures of 3-18, while Jones' 3-23 ensured the Swans got off to the best possible start. Nel continued his good season, taking 2-61 from 27 miserly overs.
Glover (38) and Rowley (33) were the best performed batsmen for Rosedale-Kilmany.
STRATFORD walked all over Bundalaguah, chasing the required 145 five wickets down, before batting on. Bundalaguah enjoyed some early joy, as Lewis Bolton was dismissed without adding to his day one score, but from there Stratford played the game on its terms.
Cormac Hassett made 53, as he and Jack Rietschel chewed away at the total. Rietschel scored an attacking 31 before Jack Wrigglesworth saw the side over the line with Dylan Bolton.
Wrigglesworth ended up making 62, his effort all the more commendable by the fact he had been sick during the week.
With the day petering out, youngster Ethan Albrecht was given a hit and finished 23 not out as Stratford ended at 8-236.
The Bulls threw the ball around, as everyone except wicketkeeper Nathan Hibbins was given a bowl as unfortunately for Bundalaguah it was just one of those days where nothing went right. Gayashan Mansinghe took 2-26 and Toby O'Reilly 2-8.
A COMPREHENSIVE bowling performance got Boisdale-Briagolong back in business against Collegians.
The Saints ran through the College batting card to see it shot out for only 81, as batsman were sent back to the pavilion cheaply.
Resuming at 5-29, College appeared to be settling into the day until Charlie Morrison became Todd Mann's fourth victim.
Boisdale-Briagolong then took two of the biggest wickets in the competition, as Stuart Anderson and Jack Tatterson fell to see the scoreboard read 8-57.
Everything the Saints touched turned to gold, and when Jonathan Beech knocked over Tom Morrison, Boisdale-Briagolong had completed an unlikely victory after it had only made 139 in its first innings.
Mann sent down 23 overs and took 4-29 to be Boisdale-Briagolong's leading bowler.
A meaningless second innings then took place and only succeeded in delaying celebrations for Boisdale-Briagolong, as players on both sides contemplated the point of continuing to play a game that was already over.
MAFFRA got home in a thriller over Longford, with the Eagles scrapping in to win with one wicket in hand. Chasing 278, Maffra nearly torched a seemingly unlosable game, going from 6-269 to 9-274 in a matter of minutes.
Some steady but not match-winning partnerships in the early stages kept Maffra on track with Longford's comparative score, before Andrew Tyson swung momentum back the Lizards' way, trapping Josh Davis for 36 and Lee Hopkins for a globe.
A 103-run stand between Brett Lanigan and Jack Egan ensured Maffra controlled a session, with the pair keeping Longford busy in the field. The Lizards got back in the game again as Egan and Lanigan were dismissed within four runs of each other, with the former making 61 and the latter 89.
Andrew Gieschen controlled the Maffra innings for a period and scored 39, to see the Eagles within an earshot of victory. Considering Maffra only needed nine to win with three wickets in hand after the dismissal of Gieschen, the chances of a Longford victory appeared distant.
However, all hell broke loose when David Griffiths was bowled by Tyson without scoring, and another wicket fell immediately after when Josh Rurawhe went for glory only to be stumped.
It was panic stations on the sidelines for Maffra as the scoreboard
showed it was still four runs shy of victory with only one wicket in hand.
Those four runs would have felt like 400, and as numbers 10 and 11 Jim Beaumont and Nathan Magnuson saw off a few close calls, they were able to scratch the winning runs to hold on for dear life.
Tyson finished with figures of 4-33 and Seth Westley 2-79.