Combine snares lead
Swifts-great Western has won a battle for top spot in Grampians Cricket Association with a club-record 296run victory over Youth Club.
The Clubbers were never in the hunt, chasing 397 for victory and finishing with just 100 runs.
Nic Baird again top-scored with 52 runs that took him past the 500-run mark to 518, which represents a huge chunk of the 1311 runs scored by Youth Club this season.
Matt Fitzgerald was again the top bowler for the Combine with 5-25.
St Andrews started its match against Pomonal at 2-12 and needing 133 for victory slumped to 6-52.
But a 56-run partnership between Ben Boatman and Riley Taylor steadied the innings and the Saints were able to pass the Tigers’ score of 132 with seven wickets down.
The best of Pomonal’s bowlers were Lachlan Dalkin and Tim O’connor, with three wickets each.
The result kept St Andrews’ finals aspirations alive.
The remaining game saw Halls Gap thwart Aradale’s attempt at outright victory through a bold second-innings score of 7-215.
Aradale, responding to the Gappers’ first-innings 148, took its score to 6-255 before declaring, Scotty Turner, 59, Matt Fulton, 41, and Riley Wood, 37, top-scoring.
Faizal Butt was the pick of the Gappers’ bowlers with 5-93.
The Gappers’ second innings featured solid contributions from Luke Stevens, 40, and a 70run partnership between Charlie Mcintosh, 50, and Marcus Elliot, 19.
Aradale’s best bowler was Shan Chinthapalli with 3-44.
In the final home-and-away round starting on Saturday, every game has an impact on the final make up of the top four.
Youth Club will be after as many points as possible in a two-day clash against Halls Gap, while Buangor-tatyoon needs to win against Swifts-great Western to ensure a finals berth.
Aradale and St Andrews will battle for a chance to play finals, with Pomonal unable to be displaced from third position.
Should the Combine falter against Buangor-tatyoon it might drop back to second spot.
The Combine batsmen were in good form last round with all recognised top-order players firing. But the Tatyoon wicket has not been kind to batsmen this season, which means Michael Harricks and Lachy Oddie will be applying pressure for the home side.
However, runs have been a problem for Buangor-tatyoon this season with Harricks and Aaron Byron carrying the batting.
Halls Gap produced its best batting last week and won’t be any walkover for the Clubbers if they can carry that form to Stawell’s Central Park.
Clubbers’ Nic Baird has been the batting mainstay and will be asked to do it again.
LEADER: Youth Club’s Nic Baird passed the 500-run mark at the weekend. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER