COOMA’S batsmen, led by century makers Michael Hill and Steve Barrett, have all but assured their side of a finals appearance in a productive first day of Goulburn Murray Cricket’s final home and away round on Saturday.
Hill with a neat 100 and Barrett with 140 propelled Cooma to a daunting score of 6/383 in the clash with Stanhope at Stanhope.
The pair added 279 for the fourth wicket after Cooma was 3/55.
Hill’s 100 came up from 111 balls and contained seven fours and three sixes, while Barrett, coming off an innings of 99 in B grade in the previous game plundered 140 off 163 balls with eight fours and two sixes.
Opener Andrew Appleton with 30 and Liam Barrett (46) also made contributions to the mammoth Cooma score, which should prove beyond the Stanhope batsmen this Saturday.
Steve Hall with 3/78 off 21 overs and Nav Gill with 2/46 off 14 overs were the most successful Stanhope bowlers.
■Cooma’s rival for fourth spot, Tongala, also had a fruitful day at the batting crease, piling up 9/287 against Rochester Tigers.
Opener Darin Ohlsen showed the way with a patient 88, with three boundaries, and was at the wicket while Tongala added 163 runs.
Ohlsen and Adam Nunn got the Tongala innings back on track with a 140-run stand for the third wicket after Tongala had dipped to 2/10 early.
Travis Johnstone made 36 to keep the runs coming along with number nine Joel Egan who smashed 53 off 46 balls including three sixes and three fours.
Fraser Cleary, with 5/65 off 16 overs, was the most successful bowler for the Tigers.
But Tongala’s effort is likely to be in vain, as it needs Stanhope to beat Cooma to be a chance to make an eleventh hour appearance in the finals.
■The battle for second place on the ladder between Kyabram Fire Brigade and Moama looks evenly poised.
Sent in to bat in the game at Kyabram’s Northern Oval, Moama posted a competitive 249 thanks mainly to a classy century from Brayden McGregor and a quick-fire 61 from Layton McCann.
Opening bowler Brodie Unwin, with 3/42 off 17 overs, Michael Mattingly, with 3/50 off 19 overs, and Jayden Rosin with 2/11 were the pick of the Flames’ bowlers.
■In the other games with no impact on the finals, Echuca and Rochester United have already secured first-innings points over strugglers LBU and Echuca South respectively.
COOMA pulled off a morale-boosting win on the eve of the finals with a 21-run win over top side Northern United.
Openers Duncan Lowis (44) and Nick Hubble (22) got Cooma off to a good start with the bat and follow-up efforts from Tom Holman (31) and Brad Goodman (33 not out) enabled Cooma to post 7/159.
With Goodman then showing the way with the ball with 4/7 off eight overs Cooma’s bowlers restricted to United 138 to execute the win.
■Third-placed Moama was in dire trouble at 7/44 against Tongala but finally scrambled 127, which was good enough to get the premiership points.
Tongala’s batsmen lasted only 11 overs in making 54, of which Bailey Waasdorp contributed 21.
■Girgarre had a 25-run win over Echuca after consistent George Hanmer, with 48, and a late stand between Jonathan Sherritt (26) and Locky George enabled the visitors to post 9/152.
Then, with Andrew Medhurst stepping up with the ball to take 4/35, Girgarre’s bowlers restricted Moama to 147.
■Rikki Busch had a good day with both ball and bat to spearhead a win for Fire Brigade against Rochester Tigers.
Busch took 4/20 and Nathan Torney 3/14 as the Flames dismissed Tigers for 90. Busch then made 23 and with support from Corey Carver (24 not out) ensured a six-wicket win for their side.
STANHOPE’S Jayke Fisher produced the most devastating burst of bowling in any grade for the season on Saturday when he claimed a sensational 9/14 against Rochester United.
Fisher clean bowled five of his victims in the deadly seven-over spell as United fell for 86 chasing Stanhope’s 109.
While Fisher starred with the ball, Stanhope can thank Ashley Lucas for posting its winning score.
Lucas scored 49 of the 109-run Stanhope total.
■Girgarre completed the home-and-away season with a win over Cooma.
Jason Varcoe (32), Andrew Morris (28) and Richard Morris (26) enabled Girgarre to post 168 and in reply Cooma battled to 8/96, with Adam Hubble (21) and Curtis Walsh (19) its most productive run makers.
■Rushworth never looked like challenging Echuca’s score of 6/168, dismissed in 22.4 overs for 60 with Brad Chillingsworth the top scorer with 18.
■Fire Brigade won on forfeit from Rochester Tigers.
In the qualifying finals this Saturday Fire Brigade meets BLU at Brose Oval Tongala while in the other finals Echuca meets Northern United and Echuca South and Moama clash.
FIRE Brigade White slipped to fourth spot on the ladder after a batting disaster against Rushworth in Saturday’s penultimate round.
With Dan Newton (4/10) and Ryan Patten (3/6) leading the way, White scrambled just 32 runs.
Rushworth, led by veteran opener Peter Raglus (16 not out), picked off the total in 11 overs for the loss of one wicket.
■Kyabram Fire Brigade Red kept in the finals hunt with a commanding win over LBU.
With Charlie Barnett picking up 3/8, Red dismissed BLU for 88. Then Red’s openers, Scott Fleming (53 not out) and Justin Hooper (26 not out), polished off the runs needed for the win without the loss of a wicket.
In the other two games, Echuca accounted for Cooma while Moama had the better of Tongala.
In the final round this Saturday, Fire Brigade Red will have to beat second-placed Moama and rely on either sister side White falling to second-bottom side Cooma or Echuca losing to third-bottom side BLU to be a chance to play finals.