UNITED has lost its position at the top of the Emu Valley Cricket Association ladder and will go into the finals on the back of two losses in a row.
The Tigers made a good fist of their challenging run-chase against Axe Creek on Saturday, before falling 16 runs short.
Chasing the Cowboys’ 361, the Tigers – who slipped to second having sat on top of the ladder since round three – replied with 345 at Ewing Park.
The victory was a superb finish to the season for the Cowboys, who had gone into the game having lost their previous six matches.
The Tigers had plenty of contributors in their innings, with eight players scoring at least 18.
Mick Webb top-scored with 77, while Josh White (54) also made a half-century.
The Tigers looked like they would struggle to get near their target when they fell to 5-176, but their batting depth was shown when their last five wickets added 169 more runs.
Jamie Morgan (3-54) and Rob Fisher (3-72) each took three wickets for the Cowboys.
Having gone through the first nine rounds of the season undefeated, the Tigers will go into the finals on the back of consecutive losses to Axe Creek and West Bendigo.
● Reigning premier Mandurang finished on top of the ladder after defeating West Bendigo by 82 runs in what was a preview to their semi-final clash this weekend.
The Redbacks were bowled out for 179 in reply to the Rangas’ 261.
West Bendigo had been 3-123, but its innings was stalled when it lost 5-19 to crash to 8-142.
Cain Ladiges (4-36) and Michael Healy (2-48) took two wickets each for Mandurang during the Redbacks’ collapse.
Opener Travis O’Connell (36) was the only player to pass 30 for the Redbacks, who must now regroup ahead of their semi-final against the Rangas.
Mandurang batted for 29 overs in its second innings, scoring 7-110.
● Emu Creek warmed up for its return to the finals with a 238-run win over Spring Gully.
The Crows got nowhere near the Emus’ imposing tally of 5-376 after they were bowled out for 138, having one stage been 2-90
Four Spring Gully batsmen made ducks, while opener Jaryd Wishart played a lone hand.
Wishart scored 62 runs to end the season having made 275 in his past three innings.
Leigh Byrne was the chief destroyer with the ball for Emu Creek, taking 4-30 off 11 overs.
Emu Creek was 2-51 off nine overs in its second innings, with Simon Marwood’s 35 not out taking him past the 500-run mark.
● Marong just scraped past Maiden Gully in their game at Marong Links Oval.
The Panthers passed their target of 176 nine wickets down, before stumps were pulled with their score 9-186.
Although it didn’t have a big score to defend, Maiden Gully gave itself a chance when it had the Panthers’ 7-140 and later 8-155.
However, Nick Ede (25 n.o.) and Jayden Laubsch (9 n.o.) finished the job for the Panthers, who ended the season fifth with five wins.
Opener Zac Samuel (58) was the best of the Panthers’ batsmen, while Scott Ross made nine to finish the season as the competition’s leading run-scorer with 572.
Ross scored almost half of his runs in his record-breaking knock of 283 n.o. against Spring Gully in round five.
Rob Brown picked up 3-42 off 16 overs for Maiden Gully, which ended the season having lost six games in a row and with the wooden-spoon.
● Sedgwick rounded out its season with a 122-run win over Golden Gully.
Led by another five-wicket haul from Rams’ spinner Sam Alcock, Sedgwick bowled Golden Gully out for 221 in reply to its 343.
With his 5-79 off 19 overs, Alcock ended the season as the EVCA’s leading wicket-taker with 33.
Alcock’s 33 wickets included 21 in his past five games, while he took at least five wickets in an innings three times.
Golden Gully was solidly placed during its innings at 2-143, before losing its last eight wickets for 78 runs. No.3 Darren De Marchi batted well for his 65 for the Cobras.