FIRE Brigade veteran Justin Elliott turned back the clock as Kyabram Fire Brigade compiled 202 against Rochester on the opening day of Goulburn Murray Cricket’s penultimate round on Saturday.
Elliott, a brother of Kyabram’s former Test opener Matthew, scored a patient century, which was littered with 16 boundaries and two sixes at Kyabram’s Northern Oval.
But Elliott was the only standout Flames batsman on the day with skipper Danny Kent’s 23 and fellow opener Marx De Villiers’ 21 the next highest contributions against third placed Rochester, who would have been satisfied with their effort against the ladder leader.
De Villiers and Elliott made what looked to be a promising start for the Flames with an opening partnership of 32 but Elliott was then left to do most of the run making.
Dylan Cuttriss was again Rochester’s key bowler, with the paceman claiming an outstanding 4/35 off 19 tireless overs. Jake Perry also got the job done with 3/34 off 11.4 overs.
This game looks evenly balanced going into the final day this Saturday.
■ It was the batsmen’s day generally, with Tongala bouncing back from its loss to the Brigade the previous week to knock up 245 against Bamawm Lockington United at Bamawm.
Again it was young talent Clayton Thompson who showed the way for Tongala with an entertaining 79 off 109 balls with six fours and two sixes.
He figured in a 135-run stand for the fourth wicket with Adam Nunn, who scored a half century.
Coach Daniel Coombs contributed 23, which was the next highest score.
But it’s not an ungettable total and the Tongala bowlers will need to be on the job this Saturday to achieve a win for their side in order to retain second spot on the ladder from a challenging Rochester.
■ Cooma’s batsmen also stepped up on Saturday, albeit a little late in the season, to post an imposing 9/340 against bottom side Echuca South at Cooma.
Skipper Michael Hill with 76 and Liam Barrett with 79 capitalised on a positive start given by openers Steve Barrett and Sam Langley.
Hill struck 11 boundaries and Liam Barrett 10 while Steve Barrett clouted nine fours in his breezy 57.
A late flurry of 49 runs from Liam Thorne boosted the Cooma score over 300 and helped set up a likely win this week.
■ In the other game crucial to the finals battle Echuca batted themselves into the box seat against Moama with Matt Hinks’ knock of 99 not out the highlight as his team piled up 7/310.
Stanhope strike bowler Craig Emmett bagged 6/29 off 14 overs as Rochester Blue fell for 128.
But Stanhope was 2/19 in reply with still plenty of work to do to get the points
■ Shannon O’Brien claimed 5/15 and Tom Owen 3/12 as ladder leader Fire Brigade took a stranglehold on its clash with Girgarre, out for 90.
Only Scott Fitzallen, with 45, put up any real resistance to the Brigade attack. In reply the Flames were 0/59 and will be thinking of maximum points when the game is completed this Saturday.
■ In the other games Tongala was 1/37 chasing BLU’s 127 in which Cameron McMullan and Nathan Cornwall both took three wickets while Cooma’s batsmen have to make 260 this Saturday to beat Northern United to keep in the finals hunt.
Billie Gahan with 73 and Talbot Varcoe with 61 helped Girgarre to a handy and winning score of 8/205 against Stanhope, who could muster only 116 in reply.
Mal McKenzie-Ross picked up four wickets for Girgarre.
■ Brenton Sheppard, with a fighting 40, steered Fire Brigade to a five wicket win over Northern United while Rushworth lost just two wickets covering Echuca South’s 7/89.
Regan Hanson with an unbeaten 29 and Shannon Jarret with 21 not out ensured the Rushworth win.
Not even a fighting 71 from veteran Peter Raglus could save Rushworth from a loss to top side Fire Brigade, who got over the line courtesy of half centuries from youngsters Mitch Dunne and Jack Norris.
■ Shannon Tucker with a half century ensured a win for second placed Tongala against fourth placed BLU.
■ In the battle of the bottom sides Fire Brigade White, courtesy of half centuries from Miller Griffiths and Jason White, proved too good for Cooma despite a half century from Nathan Angelino.