By Marcus Uhe
Springvale South made the perfect start in its defence of 337 against Berwick on Saturday thanks to a savage opening spell from the Bloods’ new-ball pair.
Blade Baxter and Josh Dowling had the visitors reeling at 3/1 at the end of the fourth over as Matthew Hague, Jarryd Wills and Matt Robertson were all removed without scoring.
Dowling made the most of his long right arm to snaffle a diving return catch off Wills to get the ball rolling, with Hague and Robertson dismissed in the following overs.
The disastrous opening to the innings brought Jordan Cleland and Jake Hancock to the crease, who showed their class in the face of extreme adversity.
134 runs were added for the fourth wicket to rescue the Bears, but the two lacked support from the remainder of the batting card.
Hancock hit 81 and Cleland 69 but Cleland’s dismissal at the end of the 45th over signalled the beginning of the end for Berwick.
Finger spinner Jarryd Straker grabbed both key batters to maintain his place atop the wicket-takers list, before Baxter and the part-time off spin of Jordan Mackenzie combined to mop-up the Bears’ tail for 215, 122 runs shy of the target.
Baxter (3/62) and Jordan Mackenzie (3/13) led the way from a wickets perspective, with Dowling and Straker taking two each in a shared effort from the Bloods.
Aside from Hancock and Cleland, the next highest score was Lachlan Brown’s 13 as Berwick’s batting issues came to the fore once again.
The Bears were 6/29 against St Mary’s in round four before Cleland played another rescue mission, while Beaconsfield dismissed them for 124 in round two.
A century from opener Jawid Khan guided North Dandenong to its first win of the new campaign over Beaconsfield.
Chasing 175 for the win, Khan batted throughout the innings and was the final man dismissed for an even 100 with the score on 185, hitting 13 fours and four sixes in the process.
It was very much a case of Khan or bust for the Maroons, with Muhammad Khan’s 22 the next highest score.
The Tigers pressed for victory, taking regular wickets in the defence and preventing partnerships from building, but Khan’s dogged approach proved the ultimate stumbling block.
The wickets were shared among the Beaconsfield bowling group as Kevin Seth (three), Mark Cooper (two), Ashan Madhushanka (two) and Mitchell Tielen (two) each took multiples.
Hallam Kalora Park had no troubles in its chase of St Mary’s total of 158, reaching the target for the loss of just one wicket.
Jagveer Hayer and Leigh Booth’s opening partnership reached 66 before Hayer was removed for 34, with Mahela Udawatte (65) joining Booth (60) to pass the target under little adversity.
The Hawks declared at 5/204 with a 46-run advantage to explore their chances of an outright, reducing the hosts to 5/37 in the final innings before Susantha Pradeep and Michael Dudley carried their side to safety, the day finishing at 5/66.
Matthew Cox’s direct hit run-out of Chameera Fernando from backward square leg, the highlight of the afternoon, as Charith Keerthisinghe and Jordan Hammond each took two wickets.