ECHUCA continued its positive start to the 2017/18 Goulburn Murray Cricket season, taking down Rochester Tigers by 39 runs away from home.
After rain cost the side a chance to take full points against Bamawm-Lockington United a week ago, the Echuca players were hungry for a win and again relied on a balanced team showing to get a result.
Winning the toss and choosing to bat, Mitch Frew (17) and Adam Jones (14) made positive starts, but it was Brendan Prendergast who stepped up after getting to the crease at 2/39.
Wickets fell around him but Prendergast kept his head en route to 56, getting help from Simon Maddox (14) with the pair putting on 46.
Echuca skipper Shaun Hon was satisfied with the batting performance, confident his side could defend the total of 7/148.
‘‘It was incredible, a really good team game where all contributed,’’ he said.
‘‘It was really good to see Prenders get his first big score of the season. When the top order failed a bit, him and Simon, our two most experienced players, really stood up and knuckled down.
‘‘We definitely knew we could bowl to (the total), but psychologically an extra 20 runs can get the confidence a bit higher.
‘‘We know Jake Wright and Adam Ward are two devastating batsmen and they’ve both made hundreds against us before. They’re prepared to be aggressive and Wardy is one of the best in the competition at it.
‘‘You can’t try too much with the ball against them. You just have to keep bowling tight outside off-stump and if they want to score they’ll have to play against the line.’’
Maddox struck early to get rid of Kevin Gillin (22), but it was Frew who took the two most important wickets — Wright and Ward. It was the lift the side needed, the wickets continuing to fall with seven of eight Echuca bowlers picking up a wicket.
The Tigers were bowled out for 109, Frew the pick of the bowlers with a brilliant 4/15 from nine overs.
And the captain said it was the team performance — including some sharp fielding — allowing them to defend the total.
‘‘We’re really focusing on not relying on any one player,’’ Hon said.
‘‘We were electric in the field again, fielding really well and just getting plenty of shots at the stumps.
‘‘Even if you look at a guy like Josh Preston, he didn’t do too much but he was great in the field and was always chasing to save runs. With guys playing like that a score like 150 becomes more like 180.’’
The challenges keep on coming, with in-form Moama to come this weekend. But Hon said his side would play with no fear.
‘‘We’re really excited actually, Moama very deservedly has got the tag of being a powerhouse with the way they’ve started, but our bowling won’t change,’’ he said.
‘‘Even on Saturday, against two of the best batsmen in the league, nothing changed. We’re really excited and it will be tough, but nothing changes.
‘‘If we can knock them off, we know it will be a bit of an upset but it would put us 4-1 and in a really good position.’’