AFTER four teams started yesterday with a chance of making the Bendigo Country Week division two grand final, Deniliquin and Northern District have won their way through to today’s decider.
Northern District climbed from third on the ladder to second and into the grand final after its 50-run win over Portland at Huntly’s Poyser Motors Oval.
Half-centuries from Country Week veterans Jason Keath (65) and Kurt Brereton (54), who put on 80 for the second wicket, helped steer Northern District to 214.
Keath’s 65 kept his record intact of a score above 50 every day of the carnival, having also made 94, 50 and 50.
Having one stage been 5-184, Northern District lost its last five wickets for 30 runs, with in-form spinner Troy Warbuton (5-60) the chief destroyer for Portland.
Warburton’s 5-60 followed his 5-32 and 6-48 the previous two days.
Portland’s hopes of chasing down the target and earning a grand final berth were dashed early when it slumped to 4-51 and later 5-85.
Scott Martin (63) battled hard to hold the Portland innings together, but he didn’t receive enough support as the side was bowled out for 164.
Todd Gelletly took 3-16 off nine overs to be Northern District’s leading wicket-taker.
● Swan Hill fell from top to third and cost itself a grand final spot when belted by Emu Valley by 93 runs at White Hills’ Integrating Technology Oval.
Having been sent into bat, Swan Hill was bundled out for 155.
Among the early Swan Hill wickets to fall was opener Jason Morrison, who after making back-to-back scores of 179 and 102, was dismissed by Brett Haw (3-22) for 28.
Emu Valley looked on track to comfortably chase down its target when it was 1-94 with opener Andrew Gaul (48) and Scott Ross (27) at the crease.
However, Swan Hill gave itself a slim hope when – led by Corey Daniels (4-46) – it took 5-42 to have Emu Valley 6-136, before Mick Webb (53 n.o.) and Josh White (21) guided Emu Valley to its second win.
● Deniliquin finished at the top of the division and warned up for its grand final with a 119-run victory over Grampians at MyJet Oval.
Deniliquin compiled 269 batting first, with opener Brodie Bennett (92) and No.4 Lachlan Taylor-Nugent (80) doing the bulk of the damage.
Jim Fraser took 3-38 for Grampians, which got off to a solid start to be 1-74 chasing.
However, Grampians collapsed, losing its last nine wickets for 76 to be all out for 150 and end the carnival without a victory.
Harry Ganley (56) and James Devery (33) had set up Grampians’ solid start before the wickets tumbled, with Tim Hillier (4-38) and Alistair Wells (3-13) taking seven between them for Deniliquin.
● Just like its division one side, Goulburn Murray Colts ended the preliminary rounds unbeaten and on top of the division three ladder.
GM Colts continued their undefeated run yesterday with a 16-run win over Maryborough at Tannery Lane.
GM Colts successfully defended their score of 149, which was led by 43 from No.4 Mitch McMullin.
However, it was a superb recovery with the ball by Maryborough after the Colts had been 4-124 before losing 6-25, sparked by Shannon Brown’s 4-16 off six overs.
In its chase Maryborough crashed to 9-89, before a 44-run partnership for the last wicket between Travis Moschetti (34 n.o.) and Aaron Westbrook (21) gave the Colts a scare.
McMullin completed a fine double by taking 3-27 off nine overs for the Colts, who bowled Maryborough out for 133.
● Goulburn Murray Colts’ grand final opponent today will be newcomers Grassmere, who maintained second spot, despite losing a two-run thriller to Northern United at Bagshot.
Northern United’s score of 145 proved just enough as Grassmere was bowled out in reply for 143.
The game was Northern United’s James Sexton’s last Country Week match, with the veteran batsman dismissed for two in the first innings and 10 in his side’s second innings score of 3-67.
No batsman posted a half-century in the game, with Grassmere’s Jason Elliott’s 45 the top score.
Shaumus O’Beirne (4-52) and Tim Bryce (4-42) picked up four wickets each for Grassmere, while Scott Lawry claimed 3-13 for Northern United, including the match-winning wicket when Brian Wilson (5) was caught by Dan Whitfield.
● A century from Red Cliffs’ Shannon Bowen helped keep Northern District Colts winless at Atkins Street.
Bowen made 105 not out for Red Cliffs in its 6-211 chasing Northern District Colts’ 9-210.
The other standout for Red Cliffs was bowler Ben Mole (4-24), while Russell Bott (72) was the key to the Colts passing 200 after they had been in trouble at 2-7 early.