AFTER a diabolical weather forecast and weather-affected junior matches, there was little hope for a full day’s play for cricketers in the Yarra Valley Cricket Association.
Fortunately the stormy clouds dissipated and a fine afternoon of quality cricket ensued with close contests the order of the day for those fighting for top four positions.
Warburton-Millgrove hosted Yarra Junction in a key clash for top four placings.
The visitors posted a handy, but not huge, 9-184 on the first day that left the game in the balance.
The second day’s play was well set up with the disciplined and in-form Eagles attack up against the steady and wise heads of the Burra’s batting.
What ensued was a real arm wrestle as neither side was going to relinquish this game without a fight.
Just as the home side looked to be building a partnership of significance, the Eagles bowlers would peg a wicket or two back to keep things interesting.
Eventually, the Burras, courtesy of the solid work of opener Jeremy Lewis (he batted for 50 overs), held off a spirited Eagles bowling effort to secure the win by one wicket.
Daniel Lever battled hard with a sustained spell of spin bowling to collect 3-56.
Both sides now enter the final game of the year with plenty to prove.
For the Burras, a win against lowly Woori Yallock would see them start to put some arm’s length between them and the challengers, while for the Eagles, after consecutive wins against more fancied opposition, a win against Coldstream becomes a must if they are to remain within striking distance of the top four.
The second big clash for the weekend was between second placed Healesville and third placed Coldstream.
Coldstream batted first on day one and would’ve been disappointed to not post more than 156.
However, anyone who has played on the wide expanses at Coldstream would soon tell you that a score of that size can be a little tricky to obtain.
The Bloods made a good fist of the early proceedings as they battled bravely against the new ball express of Matthew Stark (3-23) as opener Scott Hill (54) laid the foundations of a bold challenge from the visitors.
Unfortunately with his departure, things got a little too tough for the Bloods against the miserly pair of Jamie Pegg (3-31) and Liam Doughty (3-52) and despite taking the game to the 70th over, Healesville found itself 18 runs short at the fall of the 10th wicket.
Despite the loss, Healesville has set itself up well, and will be confident of notching up a win against the disappointing Mt Evelyn to close out a promising start to the season, while Coldstream will be keen to regather momentum by getting one back against Yarra Junction after their loss in the previous round.
Seville is going about its job in calculating fashion, easily disposing of Woori Yallock at home.
The Tigers were always up against it as the Blues posted a solid 234 on day one, as they were left to chase the total minus captain Simon Young against the association’s most formidable attack.
That’s how it turned out to be as in form Sri Lankan recruit Ishara Amarasinghe (3-21) made short work of the top order, leaving captain Dean Troyhan the luxury of giving brother Scott a significant spell of spin bowling which he didn’t disappoint taking 3-36.
Tigers top order batsman Cal Ferguson did his best to keep thing together for the Tigers with 37, but his efforts were in vain as the Tigers meekly surrendered to be all out for 125.
For Seville and Woori Yallock, their seasons couldn’t be in more stark contrast.
For Seville, a win against Hoddles Creek would see them undefeated at Christmas, and after stumbling early, their form is looking ominous.
For Woori, pride is on the line as a loss to Warburton-Millgrove would see them with only one win and finals out of reach.
In the final game of Strachan Shield action, Mt Evelyn defeated Hoddles Creek in the least inspiring game of the round.
After crawling to 76 on the first day’s play, Hoddles Creek’s bowlers had to make early inroads to the Rovers batting line-up.
Captain Kane Jones was having none of that as he quickly had his team passing the total within the first half hour of play.
The Rovers then proceeded to go through the motions, as regular wickets mixed with some lusty hitting saw them declare at 9-184 before tea in pursuit of an outright victory.
Wombats star Brenton Derix showed his class, putting together impressive figures of 7-64 to put some light on the contest.
As has been the case all season, the home side showed the necessary discipline to get to stumps with only the fall of four wickets denying the visitors maximum points.
With one week before Christmas, Mt Evelyn needs to reverse the table on Healesville, or things could start to get difficult for the Rovers, while the Wombats won’t find things easy against Seville as they chase their elusive second win of the season.
DJ Strachan Shield
Warburton Millgrove 8-193 (J Lewis 31, Summers 27, L Darwall 26, Dan Lever 3-58) defeated Yarra Junction 9-184, Seville 234 (R Yasalal 59 A Kay 27 J Wright 3-28 S Young 3-56) defeated Woori Yallock 125 (C Ferguson 37 I Amarasinghe 3-21 S Troyahn 3-36), Hoddles Creek 10-76 & 4-76 (W Weir 27, B Derix 23*) defeated by Mt Evelyn 9-184 dec (G Fraser 31* K Jones 31 B Derix 7-64), Coldstream 10-156 defeated Healesville 10-138 (S Hill 54 E Davies 24 M Stark 3-23 J Pegg 3-31 L Doughty 3-52)