By Tyler Lewis
North Dandenong coach David Bell is confident that Saturday’s comprehensive win over Narre South is just the start of what his side can achieve going forward.
The Maroons piled on 6/241 in the first innings with an even spread of contributors across the board, before dismissing the Lions for just 198.
“I think we’re coming around slowly,” Bell said.
“We are still throwing away starts and things like that, but they (the playing group) are starting to understand, they’re starting to say the right things.
“A couple of the natural sloggers are starting to build an innings rather than hit their way through a problem, they’re willing to fight a bit.
“Hopefully we’re going in the right direction with that, because if we can do that, we will be alright.”
Despite posting the second-highest score in Turf 1, only one North Dandenong batter (Syed Mehmood) reached 50.
In his post-game address, Bell praised the even spread but urged his batters to push on.
“I picked out the guys that did well and the ones that it may not look like they did well on the scoreboard, but they are trying really hard in what we are working on,” he said.
“I told them to just enjoy it, they (Narre South) are a side that played finals last year and we knocked them off.
“It’s the best way to win – if everyone does a little bit – but I would still like to see someone go on and get an 80 or a 90, especially when we play against the really big sides.
“We did have a lull, we batted well up to the 20th over, but between (overs) 20-40 we probably went at three or four an over.
“We had them on the ropes, but we didn’t push on through that area, it’s something we need to improve on.”
After getting off the mark for season 2022/23, the Maroons now have a difficult pair of upcoming opponents.
North Dandenong rolls out the welcome mat to the sizzling hot Hallam Kalora Park next week, before rounding out the calendar year with Berwick.
The coach is far from frightened however, revealing that his side is beginning to believe.
“The fact is that we can win,” he said.
“These guys actually brought up themselves that they would like to get two in a row, the taste of a win makes a massive difference to everybody.
“We have done okay against Hallam (Kalora Park) in previous years as well, so if we can play 75 per cent of our best, we will be in the mix.”
Springvale South, meanwhile, has taken the upper hand in the battle for supremacy by defeating Buckley Ridges in the grand final rematch.
The Bloods posted 7/249 from its 45 overs with Ryan Quirk (74), Jordan Wyatt (55) and Jackson Sketcher (59) all getting half-centuries.
Captain Quirk declared his side took a great deal out of confidence out of the strong victory.
“It’s no secret that Buckley Ridges are a good side, so the boys take massive confidence out of beating a side like them – as I am sure anyone would,” he said.
“I think the way we won – it wasn’t a shock – but it was just really impressive to be honest.
“I think we played really well in both innings, the bowling and the batting, the boys were really happy after the game.”
While 249 was a bold score, the Bloods realistically left a few out there.
“I think a few of the boys were saying at one stage that if we kept going the way we were, we would’ve gone above 250 and closer to 300 which is absolutely bizarre,” he revealed.
“I think we lost myself, Jordy and Cam (Forsyth) in pretty quick succession, but then Sketch came in and made 50 off however many balls it was.
“Having him do that at the end bumped that score up, I think no matter who you play against, if you make 250 you’re in the box seat from the start – it was really pleasing.”
Buckley Ridges could only muster 10/132 in reply after Joshua Dowling snared 3/43 from 11 overs.
While the win now has the Bloods second on the Turf 1 table with an astonishing percentage, Quirk is adamant that his group isn’t getting ahead of itself.
“I think it’s just about maintaining this momentum,” he said.
“Obviously we’re playing some really good cricket at the moment but we’re all aware that we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“We have a great mix of batters, we have Jordy and Sketch who can hit pretty hard, then we have other blokes that can bat time and manipulate the field.
“Our bowling mix and how we complement each other is going well, we need to keep the momentum.
“We’re not a side that’s going to get ahead of ourselves, we know how hard it is to win the flag, it took us 11 years to win the last one.”
Berwick’s boom recruit Jake Hancock found some rhythm in the Bears’ second successive victory.
After being a late out last week, Hancock returned to a new role opening the batting in Saturday’s win over St Mary’s.
The technically sound top order bat faced 140 balls for a well compiled 86, steering the Bears to 5/208.
The Saints never looked promising in reply, falling for just 10/125 in the 42nd over.
Talented all-rounder Riley Siwes jagged 5/28 to seal the Bears’ second win in as many weeks.
Hallam Kalora Park, meanwhile, is continuing to flex its muscles.
The Hawks chased down the Pirates’ first innings score of 154 with five wickets in the pavilion.
It could’ve been a far less total to pursuit however, as the Hawks at one stage had the visitors 6/45.
It was an unbeaten 52 from number 8 Amman Bajwa that guided the Pirates to a competitive total.
Leigh Booth sustained his steady form at the top of the order with 63 in the second dig.