By Nick Creely
Dandenong has ended the home and away season in fourth spot and will now turn their attention to the Victorian Premier Cricket finals after a seamless win against Kingston Hawthorn on Saturday at Walt Galt Reserve.
On day two of the Panthers’ clash with the Hawks, the visitors resumed at 1/50 after the surprise loss of the in-form Brett Forsyth for 20, and with a little bit more work to do after the home side posted a lowly 150 in the first dig.
Tom Donnell (31) remained patient through the morning and early afternoon to help steady the visitors, combining with a classy Cameron Forsyth (61) for a strong 52-run stand before the skipper fell to leave the visitors 2/87, but still well and truly in the box seat.
Forsyth continued to play his shots in what was a vital innings in the middle before finals, and his highest score in the ones for the season, launching at the target with Comrey Edgeworth (72 not out), who made the most of his chance in the first XI by posting an assured half-century. Edgeworth carved nine boundaries in his fine knock coming from just his second game in the top side for the season, and ultimately putting his hand up to earn a finals spot.
After crossing for the first innings points with seven wickets left in the shed, Lincoln Edwards (53) also took the chance to gain some valuable time batting, while all-rounder James Nanopoulos (31 not out) sent the ball to all parts before stumps was called and the visitors had racked up an imposing 4/283.
It means that the reigning premiers finish in fourth positions, setting up a mouth watering qualifying final against Carlton at Princes Park, the same team they defeated in the Victorian Grand Slam and in the Premier Cricket one-day grand final last season.
The Panthers ended the home and away season with Brett Forsyth (962 runs at 80.17) the leading run scorer in the competition, while fellow opener Tom Donnell (575 runs at 38.33), James Nanopoulos (439 runs at 54.88) and Lincoln Edwards (303 runs at 25.88) all enjoyed strong individual seasons with the willow.
With the ball, Nanopoulos (27 wickets at 17.87), left-arm tweaker Akshat Buch (23 runs at 29.22) and James Wilcock (18 wickets at 21.89) were the best with the ball with the Panthers.
In the seconds, Dandenong finished the season in 10th position after losing its final home-and-away clash to the Hawks at Shepley. Set 295 to win, the Panthers were rolled for 215, with Pete Sweeney top-scoring with 79. In the thirds, Dandenong were 4/81 chasing 195 on Sunday after the Journal went to print, while in the fourths, the Panthers (6/312) thumped the Hawks (160) at Wilson Oval.