Rochester United and Echuca will return to the pitch on saturday, both hoping to take the points.By Geordie Cowan
Both Rochester United and Echuca believe they have a chance to claim first-innings points after an eventful first day’s play at Rochester Recreation Reserve.
Echuca looked to have the Goulburn Murray Cricket A grade points in the bag after a terrific bowling performance led by Taylor Beard and Brandon Dixon to dismiss the home side for 101, but found itself in big trouble at the end of day’s play at 6/57.
After last week’s rapid demolition of Bunnaloo for a 10-wicket victory, there were no such luxuries this time around for United when it opted to bat after winning the toss.
Tim Bubb and Elliot Bowen — last week’s star — opened the batting, but with the score on just 10 runs, Beard and Dixon struck three times in nine balls to have the home side reeling.
Dylan Cuttriss (17) was then joined at the crease by his brother Jesse and the pair put on 17 runs but, with Beard and Dixon respectively striking again, United fell to 5/30.
With the team in dire straits, it fell to United’s lower order to salvage something from the innings and Liam Ringin and Colin Griggs complied.
The pair added 35 runs for the sixth wicket before Josh Preston captured Ringin for a well-made 20.
Griggs battled on for a while longer and was the team’s top-scorer with 21, but Hamish Hooppell (10) was the only other batsman to reach double figures as the team tallied a barely defendable total.
Beard (4/27 off 16 overs) and Dixon (4/33 off 18 overs) were superb for the visitors, while Preston (1/10) and Rob Hogan (1/17) were the other wicket-takers.
With 24 overs remaining in the day, Echuca was well placed to put itself in a good position to claim first-innings points before the close of play.
However, with the prospect of first place on the line, United came out hard with the ball determined to fight.
Adam Jones and Ben Langley started solidly for Echuca, but with the score on 17 both fell within two overs to Dylan Cuttriss and Griggs, hitting the ball straight to mid-off.
Taylor Beard and a fast-scoring Ryan Hon (24) were next in, seeking to give their team a foothold in the chase, but the home side was persistent in its efforts with Cuttriss (2/29) and Jake Perry (1/0) striking again.
Prendergast was determined to stay not out and saw off 36 balls for just two runs, but his partners lacked the same control as Griggs (3/22) struck twice more in the closing overs to remove Dixon and Fraser Buchanan.
Curtis Townrow (4 not out) remains with Prendergast at the crease after surviving an intense pace spell at the end of play.
Echuca captain Prendergast said Saturday’s scores were reflective of the respective strong bowling line-up, as he paid tribute to Beard and Dixon.
‘‘(The scores) are a testament to how both sides bowl,’’ he said.
‘‘They (Beard and Dixon) were able to grab us some early wickets and, as it turned out they bowled most of our overs.
‘‘But even when we weren’t getting wickets, we kept the scoring rate really low so I was really pleased we kept the score to 101.’’
Although disappointed with his side’s response with the bat, Prendergast said it was important his players had a positive attitude.
‘‘We had a couple of batsmen not play bad shots, but just not execute shots as well as they could have and that cost us at the end of the day,’’ he said.
Rochester United captain Dylan Cuttriss said it was an entertaining day’s play.
‘‘Not too many things went to script, that’s for sure,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s always disappointing not to make a good score, but at the end of the day we’ve got those runs in hand now.’’
Simon Maddox will replace Langley for Echuca on Saturday, but as Langley has already batted, Maddox will not take part in the match until the second innings.
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