Alexandra v Seymour
Seymour caused a major upset in the SDCA B-Grade competition by knocking off minor premiers Alexandra to book a place in the decider next week.
Alexandra lost only one match in the regular season, finishing on top of the ladder with 87 points — 15 ahead ahead of second-placed Pyalong and a whopping 21 points ahead of Seymour.
But come finals time anything can happen, and fifth-placed Seymour took their chances to clinch a three-wicket victory in the last over of play.
The visitors won the toss and sent Alexandra in to bat. This appeared to be a wise decision early, with Seymour’s Dan McLarty (3/28 off nine overs) removing all of the home side’s first three batters for single figures.
Alexandra’s captain Ben Cooper then stood up to make a mammoth 94 runs, but was removed just shy of his century by Simon van Duinen, who took 3/36 off eight overs.
With Cooper and James Kidd (64 runs) in full swing, Alexandra looked strong at 3/181. But Alexandra would soon drop five wickets, including Cooper and Kidd, for 20 runs as van Duinen and Lachlan Drummond cleaned up the middle and late order and restricted the run rate. This left the home side to defend a solid total of 202 runs.
Seymour then started off their innings with a bang hitting 82 runs before dropping a wicket. Damian Murphy scored 40 runs getting out to Darren Waixel while Dan McLarty scored 60 runs before he was caught and bowled by Jordan Purcell.
Brett Gordon (23 runs), Lachlan Drummond (32 runs) and Simon van Duinen (27 runs) were also strong for Seymour, which tied up the game with three wickets and five balls remaining.
Seymour plays Pyalong in the decider at Tallarook Recreation Reserve next weekend.
Pyalong v Broadford
In another close finish, second-placed Pyalong defeated third-placed Broadford by 20 runs in Kilmore on Saturday.
Led by Sean Walsh (30), Matt Robertson (30) and Jayson Meade (33), Pyalong batted out their innings to post a total of 159 runs.
Kyle Hippisley was Broadford’s strongest bowler with 3/20 off nine overs.
Nathan Tyers (36) and Blair Hobba (44) looked strong for Broadford, but there was not enough support from other batters as the home side were bowled out 20 runs shy of their target with just over four overs remaining.
Nathan Farrell-Ryan was the top bowler for Pyalong with 3/14 — including Broadford’s two opening batsmen — off seven overs.
Broadford Black v Eastern Hill
Eastern Hill is just one win away from matching the Western Bulldogs’ efforts in 2016 and taking out the premiership after only just making the finals.
The visitors put the pressure on early with strong bowling from Stuart Hanley (3/21) and Matt Hall (3/30) leaving Broadford in trouble at 5/29.
Darren Saunders made an unbeaten 40 as Broadford posted a total 125 runs.
Peter Speechley was then dominant with the bat for Eastern Hill before hitting his own wicket just shy of a half-century, with Hall (22) and Keegan Grant (18 n.o.) also in good form for the visitors.
Eastern Hill will now meet minor premiers Nagambie at their home ground next Saturday.
Nagambie v Puckapunyal Wanderers
The minor premiers put a close on Puckapunyal’s season after the visitors could not chase down their total of 147 runs.
Blair Taylor-Lloyd (67) set up the home side’s innings after some early wickets and was well assisted by James Brook (20) and Tyler Ritchie (16 n.o.).
Nagambie’s Sam Villinger (3/19) then caused some havoc while Ritchie, Brook and Dean Shepherd all claimed two wickets.