By Nick Creely
It didn’t take long for BERWICK to stamp their authority as soon as day two recommenced against CRANBOURNE on Saturday.
The Bears began the day at 7/123 as the only match not reverted into a one dayer, and the Eagles had the slightest sniff that if early wickets fell, they were in the game.
Jarrod Armitage and James Wilcock started the day steadily with the blade, seeing off some quality bowling from likes of Pradeep Boyal, Tim Fathers and Cam Kelly.
Then the boundaries started flowing and the fun ensured, with Armitage starting to take full advantage of the young opposition.
The pair added a vital 60 runs, bringing the score to 183 before Armitage feathered one behind off Fathers (3/41) to be dismissed for 66 – his first half century of the year.
Wilcock kept the momentum flowing, crossing his own half century to finish on 56 not out in a dynamic knock, as Bears skipper Jarrod Goodes had enough and declared on 9/206.
It started as a terrific beginning to the Eagles’ run chase, with Cam Kelly (12) and Brandon Tyzzer (16) knocking 20 runs off the first four overs.
Enter Wilcock (3/20) – who fresh off his half century – shredded the top order apart, using relentless lines and nippy pace to rattle the openers and number three Jake Harrington (0), picking up three quick scalps to leave the home side hanging by a thread at 3/32.
Club coach Will Carr (1/7) got in on the fun, picking up Stuart Plunkett (6) only moments later, and before Plunkett could even take his pads off, both Nivin Sathyajith (0) and Clint Ayres (0) were back in the sheds, and the score read a miserable 6/35.
Skipper Lucas Ligt (20) stood tall to fight hard for his side, but wickets kept tumbling, and in just over two hours and 30 overs, the Eagles were rolled for 69.
To make matters worse, it was their former premiership star Matt Chasemore (2/1) that ended the innings and rubbed salt into the wounds.
The Eagles were sent back in, and finished the day on 2/59.
Down at Carroll Reserve, BUCKLEY RIDGES won a game they simply shouldn’t have one, pipping ST MARY’S at the post in a final ball thriller.
After being sent in to bat, Daniel ‘DJ’ Watson (47) and Greg Todd (71) got the Bucks off to a typical, rollicking start, climbing out to 64 before Watson lost his stumps.
The Saints managed to peg the run rate back through their highly effective spin bowling attack, but Susantha Pradeep (49) and Todd started finding the boundaries late, and the Bucks reached a highly competitive 7/205 off their 40 overs.
The home side got off to an absolute flyer, belting over seven runs per over off the first five to be 0/37.
Another couple of strong overs lifted the Saints to 58, before Todd (5/21) – in what turned into a match winning spell – broke through to get the Bucks on the board.
The Saints kept knocking runs up with ease, skipping out to 1/112 before Pradeep found a wicket.
From 3/186, the Saints needed just the 20 runs for victory.
But the Bucks had other ideas, as Todd ripped through the middle to pick up 3/9 in a matter of moments.
Left arm spinner Wes Nicholas (3/26) then joined in the action, and eventually the Saints were 8/195, needing nine off the last two overs.
That equation shrunk to seven off the last overs, and Watson conceded just three runs, leaving the Saints four runs short of what seemed like a comfortable victory only an hour earlier.
Down at Alex Nelson Reserve, there were no signs of slowing down for SPRINGVALE SOUTH, in a romping of NARRE WARREN.
Off the back of slow bowlers Jarryd Straker (2/17), Craig Slocombe (2/24) and Malinga Bandara (1/31), the Magpies were kept to just 138 despite a terrific late cameo to Hussain Ali (44).
It took just 25 overs for the Bloods to make light work of the small total, with Liam Hamilton (38), Nathan King (20), Steven Spoljaric (46 not out) and Dylan Quirk (25 not out) all making runs.
HALLAM KALORA PARK also made light work of NORTH DANDENONG at Lois Twohig, with the Hawks keeping in touch with the top four.
The Maroons were outclassed by an in form Hawk bowling outfit, and led by superb performances by Jordan Hammond (3/16) and Vishal Thind (4/20), the home side could only muster up 127 in 32.3 overs.
Consistent pair Ben Hillard (17) and Leigh Booth (45) put on 54 for the first wicket, and from there the Hawks breezed, reaching the total with five wickets left in the shed.
Sanjeewa De Silva (3/18) did his best to keep the Maroons in the game.
In the round’s other two matches, DANDENONG WEST (4/169) won a vitally important game against DINGLEY (165) that could see them remain in Turf 1 beyond this season, while MORDIALLOC (8/181) put a dent in HEINZ SOUTHERN DISTRICTS’ (178) finals hopes with a thrilling win at Ben Kavanagh Reserve.