STAR Bendigo United batsman Ben Gunn made a timely return to form on Saturday to give the Redbacks the upper hand in their Bendigo District Cricket Association match of the round against Eaglehawk.
After winning the toss and batting, the Redbacks scored 8-270, highlighted by a century to Gunn.
Gunn plundered 122 - one of just seven scores of more than 30 in the BDCA on Saturday - in a 138-ball stint at the crease after coming in with the Redbacks 2-62 in the 31st over.
It was Gunn's second century this season following his 110 against Strathdale-Maristians in round one.
But the runs had dried up for Gunn following his round one ton, with just 41, including two ducks, in his previous five innings before Saturday's super knock.
Gunn hit 15 fours and one six before he was the eighth wicket to fall with the score on 255 when he became Cory Jacobs' fifth victim.
It was Gunn's seventh BDCA century, which includes five at his former club, Strathfieldsaye.
There were plenty of starts in the Redbacks' innings, but Gunn was the only batsman to cash in.
Behind Gunn, the next best of the Bendigo United batsmen were Heath Behrens (30), Matt Pinniger (29), Harry Donegan (24) and Wayne Fidler (21).
Pinniger and Fidler got the Redbacks off to a solid start with a 46-run stand for the first wicket, while Gunn and Donegan later shared in the best partnership of the innings with 62 for the seventh wicket.
The Redbacks had been 2-96 at tea, before upping the ante after the break when they added 174 runs.
Jacobs was the standout bowler for the Hawks, taking 5-86 off 28 overs, with his wickets the scalps of Pinniger, Gunn, Bryan Vance (13), Redbacks' captain Leigh McDermott (10) and Donegan.
• Sandhurst captain Craig Howard has added to the growing list of BDCA veterans to make a century this season with his 101 against White Hills.
Howard's ton was the backbone of the Dragons' 238 at KWD Oval.
The Demons held the upper hand early when they had the Dragons 3-45, with Leon Beatty (0), Alex Winfield (22) and Dustin Peebles (21) the batsmen out.
The dismissal of Peebles brought Howard to the crease and the all-rounder continued on from his second innings knock against Strathdale-Maristians the previous week.
Coming off 80 against the Suns, Howard's 101 on Saturday included eight fours and four sixes.
He shared in partnerships of 78 for the fourth wicket with Brenton Jones (30), 54 for the fifth wicket with Mark Holland (31, six fours) and 43 for the sixth wicket with Shane Robinson (7).
Howard's century was his second in the BDCA following his 137 for Strathdale-Maristians against Golden Square in the 2007-08 season.
The 39-year-old joins Bendigo United's Heath Behrens and Matt Pinniger, Golden Square's Scott Johnson, Bendigo's Mark Ryan, Kangaroo Flat's Steve Newlan and Eaglehawk's Jason Abbott as players aged at least 34 to have made first XI centuries this season.
The Dragons had been 5-220, but once Howard was trapped lbw by Travis Colley, the end came quickly for Sandhurst as its last five wickets fell for 18 runs.
Colley was the Demons' leading wicket-taker, claiming 4-54 off 16 overs. Fellow opening bowler Rhys Irwin picked up 3-43 off 20.1 overs, while leg-spinner Jake Foley took his tally of wickets for the season to 17 with 2-65 off 25 overs.
• Kangaroo Flat recovered from a horror start to the game to give itself a chance of upsetting Strathdale-Maristians at Bell Oval.
The Roos were bowled out for 165, but are right in the game after the Suns went to stumps under pressure at 3-34.
Kangaroo Flat has already picked up the wickets of December specialist Cameron Taylor (4), Suns' captain Linton Jacobs (3) and Ben DeAraugo (2), while Adrian Pappin retired hurt on one after being struck in the head by a Brent Hamblin delivery.
Roos' captain Adam Burns (1-11), Tim Robertson (1-4) and Chris Barber (1-9) all have a wicket each.
Suns' opener Travis King (16 n.o.) survived the Roos' 18-over blitz, while Jack Neylon is six not out.
Earlier, the Suns' decision to bowl first paid immediate dividends when for the second game in a row the Roos' top-order was rocked.
Inside 16 overs the Roos were on the ropes at 4-22.
Opening bowlers Jacob DeAraugo and Ryan Haythorpe took two early wickets each, with the first four batsmen to fall Steve Newlan (3), Daniel Barber (9), Tim Robertson (8) and coach Brad Perrow (1).
However, from 4-22, Burns, Josh Newlan and Brent Hamblin worked hard in the middle-order to try to rebuild the faltering innings.
Burns top-scored for the Roos with 52 (six fours), Hamblin made 27 (four fours) and Newlan added 25 (two fours).
Veteran Brad Orton (19) batting at No.9 was the only other player to score in double figures.
Burns and Newlan put on 81 for the fifth wicket before the partnership ended when Burns was caught and bowled by Jacob DeAraugo in the 38th over.
The Roos' innings ended in the 64th over.
Jacob DeAraugo picked up from where he left off against Sandhurst last round with 4-38 off 21 overs.
In his past two games DeAraugo has taken 12-117 off 49 overs.
Haythorpe snared 3-41 off 20 overs, while leg-spinner Cameron Taylor took the last three wickets to fall to finish with 3-31 off 8.4 overs.
Ben DeAraugo is battling an Achilles problem and didn't bowl.
• Teenager Jake Higgins steered Golden Square out of trouble against Bendigo at Bendigo District RSL Oval.
A massive upset was looming when Golden Square was under pressure at 7-90 in the 28th over.
However, Higgins, combined with support from Jamie Bysouth, pushed Golden Square's score up to 199.
Higgins scored his first half-century in the first XI in an unbeaten 73 off 158 balls to lift his average this season to 152.
Higgins has only been dismissed once this season in making scores of 4 n.o., 33 n.o., 17 n.o., 10, 15 n.o. and 73 n.o.
He and Bysouth (29 off 103) put on a much-needed 74 for the eighth wicket after Golden Square had been on the ropes.
Luke Baird (9) also put on a handy 30 runs with Higgins for the ninth wicket.
Golden Square lost its first seven wickets with the score on 8, 30, 30, 33, 74, 81 and 90.
Opener Scott Trollope made 27 and Jason Johnson scored 24, but Square got just one run out of their other top-five batsmen in Liam Smith (1), captain Tim Wood (0) and Grant Connelly (0), while Jayden Burke added 20 at No.6.
Bendigo's Jotham Higgs took his first wicket in the first XI when he bowled Wood and finished with 4-41 off 13.2 overs to be the best of the Goers' bowlers.
Alex Pearson (2-35) and Mark Ryan (2-18) were also multiple wicket-takers for the Goers, who went to stumps at 1-11 off eight overs. Joel Mortimer (5) is the batsman out.
Meanwhile, the biggest talking point of the BDCA on Saturday was Golden Square's star all-rounder Scott Johnson - the side's leading run-scorer and wicket-taker - playing in the seconds.
Not surprisingly, Johnson dominated, making 138 n.o. in Square's score of 3-406, which also included 140 from John Lalor.
• There was no play in the Strathfieldsaye v Huntly-North Epsom game at Tannery Lane because of a damp wicket.
Their game reverts to ordinary conditions this Saturday.