Bulldogs setting the pace

AFTER eight rounds of the Bendigo District Cricket Association season, Golden Square is proving the side to beat.

Golden Square is the only unbeaten team and has a two-game buffer at the top of the ladder.

Here's how each team is shaping up ahead of the resumption of the BDCA season on Saturday.

BENDIGO

10th: 1-7

Runs: Mitchell Blackman (252), Mark Ryan (184), Brett Andrews (177). Wickets: Brett Andrews (11), Nathan Fitzpatrick (8), Mark Ryan (7).

Just one win so far for the bottom-of-the-ladder Goers when they smashed 6-376 against Sandhurst in round four.

However, apart from that innings it has been tough going with the bat for the Goers.

Since their mammoth total against the Dragons, the Goers have been bowled out for scores of just 172, 67, 140 and 81.

BENDIGO UNITED

4th: 5-3

Runs: Matt Pinniger (367), Ben Gunn (287), Heath Behrens (212). Wickets: Miggy Podosky (17), Leigh McDermott (16), Nick Crawford (14).

The Redbacks are around the mark as per usual, sitting in fourth position with a 5-3 record.

Their three losses so far have come against the other three teams currently in the top four, but in those three defeats they had their chances to win.

Matt Pinniger, Ben Gunn (two) and Heath Behrens have all made tons, while Nick Crawford and Gunn each have five-wicket hauls.

EAGLEHAWK

5th: 5-3

Runs: Anthony West (250), Cory Jacobs (162), Jason Abbott (157). Wickets: Andrew Smith (19), Aaron Monro (12), Cory Jacobs (10).

The Hawks will be desperate to return to their early-season form and fight their way back into the top four.

After a 4-0 start, the Hawks have won just one of their past four games, during which they've been plagued by batting collapses.

They were the team that ended Strathdale's 26-game winning streak in round two, but geez, that seems a long time ago now.

GOLDEN SQUARE

1st: 8-0

Runs: Scott Johnson (282), Grant Connelly (261), Tim Wood (254). Wickets: Luke Baird (19), Scott Johnson (12), Darren Clutton (12).

The Bulldogs are shaping up as the team to beat.

They have a perfect 8-0 record, with their biggest scare coming against White Hills in round four.

Scott Johnson, Grant Connelly and skipper Tim Wood have all passed the 200-run mark with the bat, while the bowling has been superb.

Luke Baird is the BDCA's joint leading wicket-taker with 19, while Scott Johnson, Darren Clutton, Connelly and Liam Smith have captured 44 wickets between them.

They haven't had more than 140 runs scored against them in their past four games.

HUNTLY-NORTH EPSOM

6th: 3-5

Runs: Linc McRae (260), Michael Hanson (217), Josh Collinson (159). Wickets: Sam Johnston (17), Quinton Bentley (16), Thomas Wilson (8).

Were tipped to be a finals contender, but would be disappointed with their 3-5 start that has them two games outside the top four.

Captain Linc McRae and Michael Hanson need more support with the bat - the side is yet to make a score of more than 200 - while Sam Johnston and Quinton Bentley have combined for 33 of the Power's 64 wickets.

Although, they have also combined for 246 of the Power's 466 overs.

KANGAROO FLAT

9th: 1-7

Runs: Adam Burns (222), Lachlan Shelton (198), Steve Newlan (185). Wickets: Chris Barber (13), Adam Burns (13), Brent Hamblin (10).

Haven't been as bad as their 1-7 record and ninth position on the ladder suggests.

Lost a couple of close games early against Golden Square and Huntly-North Epsom and gave Strathdale a major scare at Bell Oval, while the Roos have only been bowled out three times.

But on the flipside, they've also only bowled the opposition out three times.

SANDHURST

8th: 2-6

Runs: Craig Howard (330), Brenton Jones (187), Alex McGauchie (149). Wickets: Liam Bowe (14), Elias Bowe (13), Craig Howard (10).

The Dragons lost their first four games, but have improved to split their past four 2-2.

They have had to play the past five games without their best batsman Nick Scullie, which hasn't helped their cause.

Captain Craig Howard has turned the clock back with his recent form with the bat.

After scoring just 66 runs in his first seven innings, Howard has blasted 80, 101 and 83 n.o. in his past three.

STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS

2nd: 6-2

Runs: Adrian Pappin (320), Travis King (303), Cameron Taylor (299). Wickets: Cameron Taylor (18), Jacob DeAraugo (18), Ben DeAraugo (15).

Not the dominant force they were last season when they were undefeated, but the Suns are lurking ominously as they shape up for a tilt at their fourth flag in a row.

They are 6-2 and have won their past four games, while they boast three Victoria Country players in Cameron Taylor, captain Linton Jacobs and Travis King.

But probably the biggest story out of the Suns has been the form of bowler Jacob DeAraugo, who has made the most of increased opportunity by taking 18 wickets, including 16 in his past three games.

STRATHFIELDSAYE

7th: 3-5

Runs: Ben Devanny (286), Hamish Schumacher (197), Cory Devanny (186). Wickets: Justin Hargreaves (17), Ben Devanny (17), Cory Devanny (9).

Certainly hasn't been the doom and gloom that many predicted following their key off-season departures.

The Jets are 3-5, with only two of their losses against Sandhurst and Golden Square floggings.

All-Rounder Ben Devanny has stepped up superbly and leads the Bendigo Advertiser-Bicknells Player of the Year Award with 21 votes.

WHITE HILLS

3rd: 6-2

Runs: Gareth Davies (279), Sam Stagg (226), Brayden Stepien (218). Wickets: Jake Foley (19), Rhys Irwin (13), Travis Colley (11).

Without doubt, the Demons have been THE surprise packets of the season.

From wooden-spooners last season, the Demons are entrenched in the top four and a genuine chance of playing finals for the first time since 1999.

Have lost two of their imports in Jake Foley and Jack Hebron, but the return of Gavin Bowles is timely.

The season highlight has been Rhys Irwin's 7-46 against Strathfieldsaye in round three and the against-the-odds win over Eaglehawk in round six.

The big question now is can the Demons sustain their form and how will they handle the pressure of trying to hold a top-four position?

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