By Nick Creely
Buckley Ridges is one step closer to playing on the MCG, with the Bucks dominating its two TAC Regional Big Bash Games on 10 December against South Caulfield and Pakenham respectively.
The DDCA powerhouse flexed its muscles in the morning match against South Caulfield on AH Butler Oval in Frankston, with the Bucks – in particular star all-rounder Daniel ‘DJ Watson (95 not out) – carving the bowling attack up to finish on a commanding 1/184 off 20.
Susantha Pradeep (31) and Suren Ekanayake (47 not out) also found plenty of runs in a dominant batting performance.
South were unable to muster any sort of challenge, with the Bucks’ disciplined bowling attack in Jurgen Andersen (2/18), Greg Todd (2/17), Wes Nicholas (1/27) and Matt Goodwright (2/18) restricting them to just 9/116.
The Bucks then faced off with Pakenham in the afternoon, with the winner to advance to the next stage.
Lions skipper Dom Paynter sent the Bucks in to bat, and the loss of the dangerous Watson (18) and Pradeep (5) early in the piece significantly slowed the scoring.
Greg Todd (44 not out) rotated the strike superbly but apart from skipper Troy Aust (17) the Lions were mostly on top despite a late monster six by Jurgen Andersen (8 not out) that lifted the Bucks to 7/130.
Andersen (1/35) picked up the early scalp of the dangerous Chris Smith (4), before Paynter (24) and talented youngster Zac Chaplin (25) built a 52 run partnership that seemingly had the Lions in a winnable position.
But slow dynamos Wes Nicholas (3/14) and Matt Goodwright (2/16) proved the ultimate difference, with their subtle changes of pace and some clever field placements restricting the Lions to 115 off 20 overs.
Todd (1/18) was also handy with his mediums on a pitch that appeared to be quite slow, while Pradeep (1/19) picked up the vital scalp of Troy McDermott (24).
Troy Aust’s side will now play off in a preliminary final on 4 February 2018 as a result of the victories, as it looks to claim yet another premiership for the region after Cranbourne’s success last season.