ROCHESTER United has suffered its first defeat of the 2017/18 Goulburn Murray Cricket season, crashing to a whopping 217-run defeat at the hands of Kyabram Fire Brigade.
Chasing the Flames’ imposing total of 324 from the previous week, United’s batsmen were unable to build any sort of partnerships and were all out for 107.
Opener Corey Windridge top scored with 29 but eight of the United batsmen failed to reach double figures.
Fire Brigade’s new recruit Michael Mattingly was the chief destroyer, snaring 6/34 to go with the 35 runs he scored with the bat the previous week.
The Flames and Rochester United have played off in the last two grand finals with United winning both.
Saturday’s round 12 result would suggest this year could be the Brigade’s big chance to break its rival’s stranglehold on the title.
However, finals are a different ball game and there are plenty of other teams keen to have their say in who plays off in the season-decider.
United is still on top of the ladder with Kyabram Fire Brigade second but only six points separate the next three teams — Moama (third), Cooma (fourth) and Tongala (fifth).
The race for the remaining finals positions was made even more intriguing on the weekend with Cooma’s thrilling defeat of the highly-fancied Moama outfit.
Defending 163, Cooma’s Michael Hill (5/32) ripped through the Moama top order.
He snared the vital wickets of Jordan McGregor (7), Layton McCann (4) and Joel Murphy (0) to have Moama reeling at 3/17.
Moama was able to rally largely on the back of a hard fought 46 from opener Anthony McMahon and they crept nearer the total.
At 8/118 the game looked gone, but some late heroics from Graeme Mitchell (40) almost got Moama over the line. Instead, it fell just three runs short of victory.
Tongala kept its finals hopes alive, cruising to a 175-run win over Stanhope (Matt Ohlsen claiming 4/17 for the victors), while Bamawm-Lockington United (166) crushed Rochester Tigers (58).
In the other match of the round, Echuca scored an outright win over crosstown rivals and bottom placed Echuca South.
Having dismissed South for 100, Echuca declared at 7/156 before routing South again for 87 with Matt Hinks and Simon Maddox taking nine wickets between them.
It meant Echuca needed just 32 runs to claim the outright victory, which it did in 5.1 overs for the loss of four wickets.