Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Spot in final up for grabs for Cricket Shepparton

Cricket Shepparton can secure a place in the Melbourne Country Week division-four final with a win against Colac today.

DAMEN FRANCIS February 20, 2014 4:48am

Tim Belford smashed a run-a-ball 50 as Cricket Shepparton won its second game at Melbourne Country Week yesterday.

Cricket Shepparton will play for a spot in the division-four final at Melbourne Country Week today.

The rebuilding association claimed its second win in three days against Central Gippsland at Schramms Reserve yesterday, but Seymour’s rain-affected draw with Colac means the battle for the top two remains wide open.

Colac tops the ladder, with two wins and a draw, ahead of Shepparton — two wins — and Seymour — one win and one draw.

It means Shepparton needs to beat the ladder leader at Williamstown today to secure a place in the final, unless Central Gippsland can upset Seymour.

Shepparton coach James Stokes said the mood of the playing group was good.

‘‘We’ve just got to concentrate on what we’ve got to do,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘The guys bounced back from (Tuesday’s loss). They were bitterly disappointed they couldn’t bat for 50 overs and we learned from that.

‘‘To get on a track like this and be under the pump and be able to bat out 50 and make a really good score on a deck that was giving the bowlers some assistance, we did really well.’’

Shepparton lost the toss and was sent in to bat and lost Nick Breslin first ball.

Paul Parsons (12), Brayden Tracey (30) and Daniel Coombs (31) showed plenty of patience to get the innings back on track, before Brocq Robertson took over.

The Karramomus masterblaster cracked 81 from 80 deliveries, while Tim Belford made 59 from 54.

The pair put on 72 in no time.

Kaine Greening chimed in with a level-headed 17 in between, as Shepparton reached 7-246 off its 50 overs.

Only the rain threatened to stop a rampant Shepparton side, which had its tail up and tore through Central Gippsland’s batting line-up in clinical fashion.

After eight deliveries, Central Gippsland was three wickets down without scoring and at one stage was 7-22.

However, with storm clouds looming on the horizon, skipper Rob Phoenix dug his heels in.

When Greening removed Phoenix, Central Gippsland had reached 79 and Breslin cleaned up the tail in the nick of time.

Brayden McGregor (3-15) and Callum Whitehead (2-22) did the damage with the new ball, while Breslin (2-7) and Josh Thurston (1-1 from seven overs) built the pressure superbly.

Stokes said he could not believe what he was seeing, but enjoyed the display with the ball.

‘‘I was watching a committed side and it was really good,’’ he said.

‘‘Their captain Rob Phoenix hadn’t batted and he came in at seven, so they were always going to come at us and he was the one that was holding us up.

‘‘Once he fell the other two fell fairly quickly.’’

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