By Jonty Ralphsmith
Kooweerup has continued its march towards finals, its third consecutive win putting it ahead of Cranbourne Meadows in fourth place on the CCCA A Grade table.
Defending a massive 332 against bottom-placed Devon Meadows, Jess Mathers did the early damage, taking the first three wickets to stifle the hosts’ momentum.
Despite some late-order resistance, the Demons won by 173 runs, led by four Nathan Voss wickets.
Cranbourne Meadows made a good fist of a big chase against Cardinia, one of the competition’s front-runners.
The hosts went at a run-rate of almost 4.5, well ahead of what was necessary to reach the target of 241, but was ultimately undone by the consistent loss of wickets.
Narinder Kumar was the standout with the bat, while Cardinia’s Blake Terlaak (4/37 off 13.2) was the most damaging Cardinia bowler.
Meanwhile, Tooradin defeated Clyde by 124 runs to remain on top of the table, while a Sam Webster half century helped Pakenham comfortably defeat Merinda Park, which staved off the prospect of an outright.
Tooradin survived a scare against Upper Beaconsfield to just about book a top-two finish with two rounds of the CCCA season remaining.
Cody Mannix anchored the early part of the tricky-small chase of 119 with 49, but his dismissal – midway through the chase with the Gulls 42 runs behind with five wickets in the shed – brought the visitors back into it.
Cameos to the lower-order were ultimately able to stave off the constant threat of the bowling attack, led by the tireless Daniel Brennan who sent down 18 overs for figures of 5/34.
There was similar tension in Clyde’s successful chase against Carlisle Park, with the hosts winning by two wickets at Ramlegh Reserve after Carlisle Park set 187 for victory.
Clyde fell to 8/153, with the last 34 runs required falling on Pratham Patel and Dhruva Sairam, who guided their team to victory after skipper John Simpson knocked off 49 runs early in the chase.
At Chandler Oval, Melbourne Sixers needed someone to go large as it tried to reel in Emerald’s 357, but its top-scorers Indika Ariyawansha and Kasun Senadhipathy were both dismissed in the 60s as the Sixers fell short by 116 runs.
Officer, meanwhile, flexed its muscle against Pakenham in a six-wicket win over the third-placed side.
Kooweerup made amends for a first-innings loss against Cardinia by reverse-outrighting the hosts at Gunton Oval.
Cardinia won by just one wicket in the first innings, declaring on 9/98, one run ahead of Kooweerup, before the Demons seized control.
Lachlan Wasley made a quick 52 off 45, while Gerrad Gilmour contributed 31 in a second innings total of 8/189 declared.
A quick 59-run opening partnership between Aidan Nooy and Brandon Mackie wasn’t enough for Cardinia to secure the outright win, the Bulls losing their last five wickets for 13 runs to lose by 32 runs.
Kynen Dore-Wilson was responsible for the late tear, taking 5/10 off 4.4.
The result could cost Cardinia a finals spot, with the Bulls now eight points and percentage behind fourth-placed Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll.
In the other games, Jamie Smith’s five wicket haul helped Merinda Park defeat Lang Lang by 12 runs; Nar Nar Goon was 34 runs too strong for Pakenham Upper Toomuc and Officer won by three wickets against Devon Meadows.
Merinda Park’s comfortable win over Melbourne Sixers on Saturday has seen the Sixers fall from top spot on the table, while cementing a finals spot for the Cobras.
Chasing 142, the visitors won by seven wickets, batting on to give the middle-order time in the middle, with Chris Smith, Caleb Allport, and Russell Allison all contributing.
Emerald, meanwhile, defeated Tooradin by 31 runs, Officer tracked down Clyde’s 335 with three wickets in hand and Pakenham was 38 runs better than Pakenham Upper Toomuc.
Half-centuries to each of Officer’s top four helped the Bullants time its chase of Merinda Park’s 8/302 perfectly.
A 130-run opening partnership between Harry Austin-Groome and Peter Whebell laid the foundation.
Austin-Groome (74) played the anchor as Whebell kept the runs ticking, eventually dismissed for 63.
Oseem Dhawan came in at number three and went hard, clattering 15 boundaries in his 77 before David Rea finished it off with a hard-running unbeaten 52.
Kerala Strikers, meanwhile, were able to narrowly stave off the prospect of an outright defeat, losing 19 wickets on Sunday in its unsuccessful chase of 418 against Nar Nar Goon.
In the other games, Officer, led by a David Smethurst century and Emmanuel Megee half-century, won by eight wickets against Kooweerup, Pakenham Upper Toomuc won by 77 runs against Cardinia and Devon Meadows sneaked home by three wickets against Pakenham.