Battle tightens at top
Horsham Cricket Association finals intrigue appears set to continue to the death knock with teams grappling for a swinging fourth spot on the ladder.
Jung Tigers and Laharum are trading blows at Horsham City Oval as part of the arm-wrestle and despite some water to flow under the bridge it might be the Tigers that have the early advantage.
Teams are halfway through the second-last home-and-away game of the season, with Laharum sitting fourth and holding a handy seven-point lead on the Tigers.
But a Laharum first-innings loss to the Tigers in the two-day fixture would reduce the margin to one point.
The Tigers would then shape up in their final preliminary game against bottom side Blackheath-dimboola and Laharum would meet Horsham Saints in what might be a do-or-die encounter.
As it stands, this weekend the Tigers will resume a 168-run chase for victory over Laharum, needing only 106 more runs with nine wickets in hand.
Plenty rests on the shoulders of Laharum all-rounder Dan Mibus, who has already removed the dangerous Angus Adams, and will resume pleasantries with the ball with the likes of Mal Adams, Josh Mahoney and Matt Farr.
Standing in Laharum’s way are veteran Marty Knight, 30, and hard-hitting Brett Jensz, 12, who are unbeaten at the crease with the likes of Tyler Neville, David Puls and Steve and Sam Leith to come.
The Tigers bowled their way into a commanding position last week, courtesy of a five-wicket haul to the tireless Puls.
Puls, who must surely rank somewhere among the all-time highest wicket-takers in the competition, captured 5-48 while leg-spinner Adams collected 4-24.
Another veteran, Jeremy Tyler, up from C Grade, top-scored for Laharum with 39, Daniel Griffiths made 28 and a handful of others made starts.
While finals speculation surrounded what was happening at Horsham City Oval, runs flowed aplenty in other games at Dimboola and Horsham Sunnyside.
Horsham Saints, dipping their toe in the premiership race, ran into a Homers batting list intent on making the Saints’ charge as tough as possible.
The Pigeons made 6-276, Sandy Hodge clipping 88 at the top of the order and Chris Hopper down the list making 80 in less than half the balls of his opening team-mate.
Jarred Combe also made 54 in the middle order, while Tony Caccaviello and Matt Combe toiled for much of the day with the ball for the Saints.
Runs also came at a hefty clip at Dimboola, where Ryan Metelmann pounced on an opportunity to hit a century and become the toast of Rupanyup-minyip.
Opener Metelmann made 111 as the Blue Panthers elevated their score to 8-291 against Blackheath-dimboola, despite missing run-making Travis Hair.
Daniel Schaper also came tantalisingly close to reaching three figures, but like Metelmann, was run out, six runs short of the mark.
Blackheath-dimboola used 10 bowlers in a collective effort to quell the visitors’ onslaught.