A Haisman Shield race for sixth spot that looked wide open before the weekend began has all but finished after yet another spectacular performance from Kyabram.
Captain Kyle Mueller led the Redbacks to victory against Tatura across the Saturday-Sunday clash at Kyabram Recreation Reserve, hitting an unbeaten century to take his side to a total that the visitors could not match.
With Old Students and Shepparton United also failing to snare wins at the weekend, the Redbacks now have a nine-point buffer over the chasing pack with one game remaining in the regular season.
This means an outright loss to the Students is all that will stop Mueller’s men from tasting finals action.
After winning the toss and batting first Kyabram found solid contributions from opener Troy Thomson (25) and first-drop Billy McLay (37), but it was only once the side’s captain came to the crease that the run-rate lifted greatly.
Mueller hit nine fours and two maximums to lift the home side to 5-258 from its 80 overs, with Paul Parsons (44 not out) going along for the ride.
Tatura battled hard in the chase to keep its finals hopes alive, but could never got going enough to threaten the Redbacks’ total and was eventually bowled out for 177 in the 77th over.
Michael Archer top-scored with 44 batting at No.5 instead of his usual opening role, with Josh Thurston (43), Tim Kelly (29), Tom Vibert (15) and Blake Armstrong (13) also grinding out starts at the crease.
Jonathan Hipwell continued his meteoric rise with ball in hand, snaring 4-61 to take his A-grade figures to 15-154 since earning promotion to the top tier four matches ago.
Lukas Hanslow also chimed in with 3-39 to turn the screws on the Tatura batsmen, while Charlie McLay produced another miserly bowling performance to leak just 11 runs from his 15 overs — which included eight maidens and a wicket.
Earlier in the contest it was Thurston (two wickets), Archer, Kelly and Armstrong (all one) who found some joy for Tatura with the ball.