KYABRAM Fire Brigade has given its confidence a massive boost on the eve of the Goulburn Murray Cricket finals with a highly productive day with the bat against unbeaten Rochester United on Saturday.
With openers Paul Newman and Henry Charlton showing the way, the Flames built an imposing score of 324 off 80.5 overs in the much anticipated showdown at the Rochester recreation reserve.
Newman and Charlton each made 67, with Newman dominating an opening stand of 89 with six fours and two sixes.
After their dismissals, Brett Andison (21), Michael Mattingly (35), Andrew Andronaco (28) and skipper Daniel Kent (48) kept the runs ticking over to present the reigning premier with a challenging run chase this Saturday.
■Tongala’s batsmen also stepped up in the crucial clash with Stanhope, posting 9/279.
Adam Nunn and Jordan Souter both scored half centuries after early knocks of 41 from Jayden Tucker and 44 from Blake Campbell had laid the foundations for a solid score.
Jamie Garde (33) and John Copeland (25) also kept the runs coming late in the innings.
If Tongala wins and Cooma is defeated this Saturday, fourth spot will be up for grabs in the final round.
■Cooma squandered a positive start in its vital clash with Moama after winning the toss and batting in the game at Moama.
Openers Brayden Stone and Andrew Appleton put on 58 and Appleton was there until Cooma had 135 runs on the board for the loss of five wickets.
But once Stone was dismissed for 39 with six fours and Appleton went for 54 with seven boundaries only Brad Power with 26 put up any resistance. Key batsmen Michael Hill and Liam Barrett both failed to get off the mark.
Moama used eight bowlers to level the Cooma batting line-up in 71 overs.
Cooma’s bowlers will need to take charge this Saturday to give their side a chance.
■Echuca was in a strong position against Echuca South, reaching 0/25 at stumps after dismissing South for 100.
The BLU-Rochester Tigers clash was in the balance with the Tigers 2/5 in reply to the visitors’ score of 166.
Fourth-placed Cooma got a valuable break on the pursuing Rochester United and Tongala in the third-last round of games on Saturday.
Cooma rolled Rochester Tigers by five wickets while Tongala and Rochester United suffered defeats at the hands of Ky Fire Brigade and Northern United respectively.
Chasing Rochester United’s score of 138, handy knocks from Sam Spicer (28), Brenton Thorpe (22) and Brad Goodman (23) ensured the Cooma win.
Sam Barbagallo also did his bit with the ball for Cooma, taking 3/16.
■Tongala was never in the hunt against second-placed Fire Brigade, dismissed for 98 in 27.5 overs after the Flames had posted 7/182.
Corey Carver top scored for the Flames with 45 after a solid opening stand of 42 from Mick Kent (25) and young sporting talent Anthony DePasquale (32).
■Girgarre didn’t have a batsmen progress beyond 20 runs but its score of 130 was enough to get it the points against Echuca South by eight runs.
Andrew Medhurst with 3/11 off eight overs and Mackenzie Cowley with 3/23 did the damage with the ball for Girgarre.
Echuca South may have closed the door to the finals after beating Stanhope and fifth-placed Northern United suffering a loss to Moama in Saturday’s round.
South was defending a score of only 93 but Stanhope fell for 79, with only Wade Foley (26) making a worthwhile contribution.
■It was experience to the fore in the Rushworth-Cooma clash, which was won by Rushworth.
At 8/76 chasing Cooma’s 9/140, Rushy dipped to 8/76 before old hands in David Baldwin (27 not out) and Peter Francis (37 not out) batted their side to a thrilling victory.
■Top side Fire Brigade had to work hard to get over LBU.
With Matt Fleming taking 3/15, the Flames restricted LBU to 8/86 off its 40 overs. But it took the Flames 38 overs and a dominant knock of 38 not out from Scott Hearn and 24 from Jack Norris to secure the win for the Brigade.
■Girgarre rounded up Rochester United’s score of 99 with four wickets in hand.
Jason Varcoe’s three-wicket haul and Jackson Neville’s knock of 32 were key factors in the Girgarre win.
Kyabram Fire Brigade Red was dumped from the top four when beaten by top side Rushworth on Saturday.
In reply to Rushworth’s 149, in which Peter Raglus top scored with 36 with support from Zac Dearing (30) and Shannon Jarrett (33), Brigade Red fell for 91.
Scott Fleming with 37 and Charlie Barnett (19) were the only Brigade batsmen to reach double figures while Alan Gascoyne with 3/17 did best with the ball.
■Red was replaced in fourth place by Echuca who had a convincing win over Tongala.
Tongala made only 118 with Echuca reaching the target in 23 overs.
Jon Beach (28) and Simon Skyes (25) did best with the bat for Tongala.
■Fire Brigade White was on the end of a heavy loss at the hands of Moama.
Chasing Moama’s score of 6/246, White could manage only 8/136 of which Justin Elliott (20) and Lachy Elliott (33) and Matt Wild (28) supplied the bulk of the runs.
Cooma’s score of 8/138, of which Ryan Hatch made 55 and Jack Goode 20, was matched by BLU for the loss of five wickets.