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Melbourne Country Week finals hopes

Hopes are still alive Goulburn Murray can make a second consecutive Melbourne Country Week final this week.

LUKE MCMANUS February 19, 2014 4:04am

Goulburn Murray captain Michael Hill flicks one towards the boundary.


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Goulburn Murray’s hope of a second consecutive Melbourne Country Week final appearance remains alive and well despite an unfavourable start to the tournament.

After suffering a first-round defeat to Sunraysia on Monday, GMC returned fire yesterday to claim a resounding win against Wangaratta.

Teetering on 6/117, GMC’s innings was salvaged by all-rounder Tyrone Isitt (86) and captain Michael Hill (63).

The pair posted a 136-run partnership to help their side to the 9/267 total, with Adam Ward (37) and Liam Gwynne (37) the other notable run makers.

In reply, GMC’s bowling attack was equally impressive as they restricted Wangaratta to 8/184 — Isitt and Ward with two wickets apiece.

The players still have plenty of work ahead them if they are to reach Friday’s final however, with Gisborne and West Gippsland left to play.

Describing Monday’s loss as disappointing, coach Lawrie Casey was still confident his players could account for their next two opponents and praised the group for its day-two resilience.

‘‘Especially because of the platform that was laid early,’’ Casey said, speaking about his side’s first-round defeat.

‘‘We lost our way in the middle, which was disappointing.

‘‘After giving them a bit of width, we eventually tightened up with our bowling and made a game of it.

‘‘Our fielding was excellent throughout but we were always 30 runs short.’’

It was a dominant performance from Sunraysia all-rounder Tom Vadlja on Monday which ripped through Goulburn Murray’s batting card, claiming game-best figures with bat and ball at Balwyn Park.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Goulburn Murray looked in control early as Liam Gwynne and Brendan Prendergast gifted their side with an 89-run opening partnership.

When Gwynne (71) fell to off-spinner Richie Wyld (1/20), there was no sign of panic as Joe Taylor (18) stuck around to help Goulburn Murray to 1/125 at the 31-over mark of the innings.

Taylor’s dismissal, however, triggered a dramatic batting collapse as Goulburn Murray lost five wickets for just 27 runs in a disastrous eight-over period.

Paceman Matt Cameron (2/41) kicked it off with Taylor’s wicket then, combining with Vadlja and Jhy Berry (1/20), rattled Goulburn Murray’s middle-order as Taylor Beard (12), Adam Ward (0), Prendergast (36), Curtis Townrow (4), Tyrone Isitt (2) and Ben Scowen (5) all fell.

Fight from skipper Hill (19) at the death failed to hide the damage as Goulburn Murray was eventually bowled out for 177 in the 48th over.

In reply, Vadjla was in control from the outset, combining with fellow opener Lachlan Skinner to post a 64-run opening stand.

Beard (1/40) produced the first breakthrough, with the help of a brilliant diving catch from keeper Steve Barrett, to end Skinner’s innings before Hamish Lewis (1/25) and Adam Ward (3/29) claimed the next two wickets just as Sunraysia’s Alex Mellor (15) and Braidyn Turner (14) looked settled.

Persistent pressure and tight bowling, which yielded no extras for the entire innings, forced more wickets as Vadlja, Rhys Webb, Regan Connell and Aidan Calarco were all dismissed before the 178-run target was reached.

The bulk of the runs had already been scored however as Wyld (24) and Matt Kirirua (29 not out) helped record a total of 8/223 and win to Sunraysia.

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