Vikings locked in tight battle

Catani batsman Liam Keily lets the ball through to the keeper. 177485 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Nick Creely

Kooweerup and Carlisle Park; two of the smoky sides for the B Grade flag; are locked in a tense, tight battle at Carlisle Park Reserve.
Off the back of Dean Lyddy (6/59 off 30 overs), the Vikings managed to fight tooth and nail to keep the Demons to just 135 in 66.2 overs, with Jesse Fitzgerald (2/17) also chiming in with some handy wickets.
The Demons battled hard through openers Ayden Mills (23) and skipper Arie Hazendonk (16), while in the middle order Jai Lewis (23) did his best work to keep the runs flowing.
Down at Chandler Reserve, Officer racked up an impressive 238 against Emerald, with the Bullants finding some solid form before finals.
Ash Smith (79) guided the innings superbly opening the batting, and combined with Tom Marks (33) and Tom Carlyle (54), had the Bullants 5/186.
A late surge inspired by Bombers bowler Jake Santini (4/50) helped take the last six wickets for just 52 runs.
Competition pace setters Merinda Park also had a day out against Upper Beaconsfield at Donnelly Reserve, with the Cobras belting an impressive 9/290.
At one stage, the Cobras were in deep trouble at 6/65, before a 121 run partnership between Mark Thomas (74) and Josh Phillips (83) got them back in the contest.
That momentum didn’t fade away for the Cobras, with Scott Kunziak (36) also playing a fine hand in the lower order to help bring the score nearing 300.
Finally, Devon Meadows (173) made a competitive total against bottom placed Pakenham (0/1) at Glover Reserve.
Cranbourne Meadows appears one step closer to cementing itself on top of the table after a solid day of cricket against second placed Clyde at Hillcrest.
With a three way jam for top spot between the Rebels, Cougars and Catani, this round couldn’t be any more important in determining how the ladder will look at the end of the home and away season.
The Rebels had a bat against the Cougars, smashing an impressive 293 in 68.3, with Sibghat Ullah (50) striking his third consecutive half century and Atta Basit (82) doing the bulk of the damage in the middle order.
Kidman Johnstone (3/73) toiled hard to be the pick of the bowlers for the Cougars.
Catani is also in a strong position in their clash with Cardinia at Rythdale, with the Cats posting a competitive first innings total.
Sent in by Bulls skipper Grant Ansdale, the Cats had a number of contributors in their total of 7/228, such as Brad McDonald (56), Liam Keily (45), Riley McDonald (34 not out) and George Zekic (31).
Officer, meanwhile, crunched a massive total against Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll at Officer Reserve.
Batting first, the Bullants were rocked by three early wickets in a devastating early spell by Luke Hill (5/43), but a rescuing effort by the likes of Shannon Marum (76), youngster Darcy Taylor (69 not out) and Matt Payne (56) lifted the home side to an imposing 8/253 at stumps.
In the other match, Lang Lang is in for a tough run chase against Pakenham Upper Toomuc (6/201) with the losing side to be last on the ladder by the end of the round.
Brett Armitage (62) crunched a half century for the Yabbies, while Joseph Dalgleish (4/49) was impressive with the ball.
Merinda Park crunched the second highest score across the association on Saturday, with the Cobras putting Carlisle Park to the sword in a bid for a late surge at top spot.
The Cobras showed no mercy, making an incredible 328 in just 63 boundary ridden overs.
Dylan Hand (81) was particularly brutal, while strong hands by Grant Bloomer (40), Martin Donaldson (49), Heath Gibson (37) and Dale Hewitson (32) had the Cobras in a dominant position.
The Vikings lost a wicket late in the day to be 1/8 off four overs, with Ali Kemali (7) back in the sheds courtesy of Russell Jenkin (1/4).
Top side Kooweerup scrapped their way to a competitive total against a fired up SFX Old Collegians at Kooweerup High School.
The Demons were greeted by some tidy bowling throughout the day; but still showed their class at times; to fight their way to 185 in 66 overs.
Jamey Blackwood (47) and rising junior Jesse Depasquale (42) were among the run scorers, while with the ball, Tom Kerr (3/45) continued his consistent season.
In the other match on Saturday, bottom sides Tooradin (133) and Pakenham (2/40) remains well poised heading into day two at Toomuc.
Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll has the bye.
A superb knock by Upper Beaconsfield’s skipper Matt Curtain rescued the Maroons from a shaky start against Devon Meadows at Holm Park.
Curtain made an aggressive 90; a knock that included four sixes; after coming in at 5/89, with the Maroons going on to post 217 as they look to keep their finals hopes alive.
The Panthers; who sit on top by 12 points; were well served by David Hussey (4/50), Riley Worsteling (2/43) and Peter Zauner (2/41), but will be in for a tough run chase next week.
Down at Worrell Reserve, fourth placed Emerald had a host of contributors in its 222 against Cranbourne Meadows, with the Bombers looking to get some breathing space from Upper Beaconsfield in fifth.
After losing a wicket in the first over of the match to Jason Poole (1/31); the Bombers steadied in the top to middle order through the likes of Danny Ceeney (36), Anthony Flint (33), Danny Thomas (29).
Adrian Savage (3/19) was the pick of the bowlers for the Rebels, taking his tally to 19 for the season so far.
Catani also scratched its way to a strong total down at Heatherbrae against Officer, with the Cats also looking to keep itself in the running for fourth spot.
Off the back of handy knocks by Cameron Wagstaff (48) and Bailey Sporish (31), the Cats were able to make 9/189 by stumps.
Vincent Artis (3/19) picked up a nice haul of wickets for the Bullants.
Gembrook forfeited its clash with Pakenham Upper Toomuc.
Cranbourne Meadows ended the day’s play in the most dominant position of the round, with the Rebels in for a massive victory against Lang Lang.
Winning the toss and batting, Rebels skipper Ross Hopwood (90) absolutely starred in what has been an individual season of brilliance, helping guide his side to 270 in just 50 overs.
Brett Richards (67) also struck a half century; his fourth of the season.
At stumps, the Swamp Tigers are 4/58 after a late day surge by Andrew Cappers (3/7), with Alex Giacco (15 not out) fighting hard for his side to remain not out.
Clyde also feasted on the bowlers in their clash with Pakenham at Toomuc Reserve, as they move one step closer to a guaranteed minor premiership.
The Cougars belted 9/278, with Max Adams (77) and Lachlan Howie (58) making half centuries.
Junior star Jordan Seers (7/61) starred with the ball for the Lions, in an incredible display from the young bowler.
Officer, meanwhile, made 4/187 against Carlisle Park Vikings at Barry Simon Reserve, with Adam Vangeninden (83 not out) keeping his sublime form going with another standout display with the bat.
In the final match, Merinda Park (178) is in a solid position against Nyora (0/16) at Lakeside Oval.
Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll walked off the ground against Pakenham on Saturday in a comfortable position.
Sending the Lions in, the visitors made 162 in 55.3 overs, with Kunal Nanda (4/35) starring with the ball for the Marygoons.
At stumps, the Marygoons are cruising on 0/21 off 11 overs, with skipper Rajnil Singh (9) and Hadlee Swetman (9) the not out batsmen.
In the other match, Devon Meadows (3/35) and Clyde (131) is well and truly in the balance at Junction Village.
Chris Floyd (5/20) starred for the Panthers with a bag of wickets.
Catani has the bye.