The two dominant teams in B grade faced off just weeks out from finals.By Geordie Cowan
Echuca and Fire Brigade are locked together at the top of the B grade ladder after Echuca defeated a gallant opposition at Victoria Park on Saturday.
In what may be a potential grand final preview, the home side successfully defended its total of 222 from last week with a strong bowling performance led by veteran paceman Jason Carlile, despite the best efforts of Matt Finn.
The tall bowler claimed five wickets during his 18 overs, including the scalps of the top four batsmen, of which Finn was one.
The second drop Flames batsman spent more than three hours at the crease seeking to earn his team a win, hitting 11 boundaries and two sixes during his 115-run innings, almost single handedly lifting his side to an unlikely triumph.
Echuca was on top throughout, reducing the visitors to 6/68, but Finn found willing partners in the lower order, including a 46-run 10th-wicket partnership with Nathan O’Donnell, before falling 31 runs short on 191.
■ Echuca South confirmed its finals aspirations with a strong 72-run win against fourth-placed Moama, despite missing captain Cameron McMullan.
A strong bowling performance led by David Geltch (3/29) and stand-in captain Ben Eade (3/14) restricted Moama to 105 last week, before a determined batting performance ensured the points on Saturday.
Alex Larcombe faced a mammoth 155 balls for his 25 runs during his stay at the crease, while a handy 29 from Stewart Moar and a rapid half-century from Anthony McMahon (53) pushed the team up to 177, as McMahon joined Tom Dyson (14) to put on 42 runs for the final wicket.
Matt Carnie finished with Moama’s best figures of 3/22, while Greg Watt claimed two wickets.
■ No updated scores were available for the BLU (6/65) v Tongala (146) and Cooma (192) v Grigarre matches, while no results were available for the Rochester United v Rochester Tigers game played over the weekend.
Echuca suffered its first defeat of the C grade season after Rushworth triumphed in a close battle at Rushworth on Saturday.
The home side batted first and made 177 in its innings, led by batsman Matt Cruz (51) and all-rounder Steve Flory (42).
Jason Gould (2/14) and Rick Nathan (3/24) were impressive for Echuca.
A crucial part in Rushworth’s success was the early dismissal of the dangerous Max Beard, bowled for a duck by Cruz, but Echuca responded.
Struggling at 4/37 and 5/66, Steve Tonkin (49) helped the visitors’ initial push, while Nathan Burrell (26) and Stephen Miller (20) gave Echuca a chance before being bowled out for 168 in the penultimate over, securing the nine-run result.
Stephen Kealy was the best bowler for Rushworth, taking 3/24, while Mick Everleigh also took two scalps.
■ Ben Pyke came desperately close to claiming a century in C grade after leading Girgarre to a comprehensive eight-wicket win against Bunnaloo on Saturday.
The opener belted 11 boundaries and one six in his innings — finishing on 98 not out — as the team raced to the target of 135 within 21 overs.
Andrew Perry also added 21 unbeaten for the victors, while earlier Michael Bawden top-scored for Bunnaloo with 42 before retiring hurt.
■ Glenn Albert made an unbeaten half-century as Moama eased to a comfortable seven-wicket win against Echuca South at Moama.
The opener finished on 53 not out and was aided by Josh Platt (35) in the run chase of 111.
Clay McGregor was the leading wicket-taker with 3/42, while Jacob Brammer recorded the impressive figures of 2/6 from eight overs, including six maidens.
Singh Simranpal batted well for South to make 47.
■ Rochester Tigers (242) smashed Rochester United (90) in the derby, while no results were available for the Fire Brigade v Stanhope clash.
Second-placed Echuca showed no mercy to bottom-placed Rochester Tigers when the teams met in D grade on Saturday.
Batting first, Jordan Engstrom (58) and Steve McCoomb (63) led the charge for Echuca, while Djaran Whyman made a quickfire 31 not out at the end of the innings to boost the total to 4/241 from the 35 overs, with Tim O’Brien taking 2/21.
Daniel Hegarty led the way with the ball during the Tigers’ reply, taking 3/11 as the opposition was bowled out for 70.
■ No results were available for the Cooma v Fire Brigade and Tongala v Girgarre matches.
An armed bandit robbed a fast-food restaurant at knife-point yesterday morning.
It’s been a long journey for Tim Roadley but his dream of creating a multi-sport endurance event on the Murray River is now going to be a reality.
It was a big day for Jye McNeil on Sunday, not only celebrating his 19th birthday, but riding a double at the Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club’s meeting, including the big one, the Vraca and Varapodio Italian Plate (1600 m), on the Gerald Egan-trained Jetconi.
Echuca Football Club has signed Joel Magnabosco and Kane Morris for next season.
On Friday Rochester’s St Joseph’s Primary School opened a time capsule which was buried in the 1980s.
Waste collection in Campaspe Shire will change for two weeks during the festive season.
Valley Park Farms' egg production facility is expected to increase production and staff after a $100 000 Victorian Government grant.
Murchison’s Jane Spencer’s first exhibition It Just Dawned On Me will be on show in Shepparton in the first half of next year.
Lisa Milligan has started a new dog grooming business in Heathcote to help fund her Wild ABout Wildlife centre in Kilmore.
Alistair Davey will return to his roots to teach Cobram Primary children the joy of music.
Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.
New Transport Accident Commission research has revealed why some young country drivers habitually take risks on regional roads.
State Member for Benalla Bill Sykes has thrown his support behind the government’s proposed new domestic animal ownership laws.
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