By Nick Creely
It’s almost inevitable that Springvale South and Buckley Ridges will play out a few more thrilling battles this season.
Their first encounter of the season in Saturday’s Round 5 one-dayer went down to the final over – and it couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The Bucks had a bat first at Alex Nelson Reserve, and the Bloods snared two key scalps early, sending the dangerous Daniel Watson (12) and classy Susa Pradeep (10) back to the sheds without inflicting much damage.
Gun Kiwi Greg Todd (61) looked in fine touch, and combined in an entertaining 63-run stand with Troy Aust (30), and eventually, the Bucks reached a highly competitive 5/183 off their 40 overs.
Malinga Bandara (1/22) was highly important with eight tight overs for the Bloods, while seamer Tim Ford (2/34) did the bulk of his damage in the early part of the innings.
Michael Vandort (18) and Nathan King (52) ensured the Bloods could muster up plenty of momentum with the bat, compiling a strong 61-run opening stand before Vandort was undone by Matthew Goodwright (1/25), who trapped the left hander in front.
The Bloods continued to move things along, but the wicket of King sparked a mini-collapse, and suddenly, it was game on as the home side found themselves 5/143.
The wise veterans, Craig Slocombe (26 not out) and Steven Spoljaric (59 not out), knew exactly how to handle the situation, finding the boundaries when they needed to be hit, and the pair soaked up plenty of pressure to leave the equation with six balls remaining and four runs to win.
With Bucks champ DJ Watson steaming in, Slocombe found the straight boundary off the first ball of the over, giving the Bloods early bragging rights.
Incredibly, in just five hits this season, Spoljaric has scored 374 runs at 93.5, with two centuries and two fifties, despite nursing sore ribs that has hampered his bowling in the last couple of matches.
Twin centuries, meanwhile, to Nathan Pilon (123) and Jordan Cleland (111) helped set up a comfortable Berwick win against St Mary’s.
The opening pair devastated the Saints, helping the Bears notch up 5/270 despite Ruwantha Kellepotha’s (4/35) brilliance with the ball.
Pilon is no stranger to devastating centuries, clubbing his fourth triple figure score for the Bears, with the former state player in ominous touch before Christmas, while Cleland scored his first century at the club, and in the DDCA, to cap off what has been a solid start to the season for the former Cranbourne premiership player.
The Saints fought hard to finish on 8/223 off their 40, but ultimately couldn’t recover after losing a clump of wickets early, with Wendyl Pires (51) fighting hard.
Highly impressive youngster Isaiah Jassal (3/46) continues to build his game with another eye-catching display, while Brendan Rose (2/41) and Cory Bevan (2/34) did the job for the home side.
Mordialloc finally broke through for their first win of the season, showcasing the form that is expected from the powerful reigning premiers.
Off the back of gun opener Brendan Morris (89 not out), the Bloodhounds raced down HSD’s 175 with ease, notching up their first points of the season just three wickets down.
The Cobras clawed their way to 8/175 off their 40 overs, with James Van Elewoud finding some form with 54, while Suraj Randiv impressed in the middle order with a well-made 36. Ian Daniel (3/28) was the pick of the bowlers for the Bloodhounds.
But, Morris, who also picked up a brilliant 95 earlier this season, was once again a rock, with the rising opener combining well with the likes of Ryan Morris (35), Ian Daniel (20) and Nuwan Kulasekera towards the end of the innings to guide the reigning premiers to a comfortable win in the end.
And Hallam Kalora Park held off North Dandenong at Lois Twohig Reserve to pick up a much needed win and draw within breathing distance of the top four.
The Hawks lost gun opener Leigh Booth (12) early after winning the toss and batting, but the class of Jordan Hammond (67) and Jaime Brohier (74) saw the visitors quickly surpass 100, before an entertaining 42 off 28 balls by Steve Gilmour saw them reach 6/217 off 40.
Maroons star Akshay Ballal (4/27) was the only bowler to cause any damage, as he continues his stunning form for his new club.
An entertaining cameo from Austin Heldt (56) – the former Casey-South Melbourne opener – saw the Maroons get off to a blistering start, but were hampered by middle order wickets tumbling at a rapid rate, eventually being bowled out for 169 in the 37th over.
Chris Pereira (3/19) was outstanding for the fifth placed Hawks, while Will Whyte (2/44), Steve Gilmour (2/29_ and Ryan Hillard (2/10) each picked up multiple wickets.
Round 6 action will see yet another one-dayer, with a potentially season defining home game for Mordialloc against the rampaging Springvale South the biggest blockbuster of the round.