MARONG opening batsman Scott Ross made a brilliant return to form on Saturday, pummelling 155 against Axe Creek in the Emu Valley Cricket Association.
It had been tough going with the bat for Ross this season with just 67 runs from his first seven innings.
But he scorched the Cowboys for 155 in the Panthers' total of 7-342 off their 75 overs at Marong Links Oval.
Ross' 155 is the second highest score in the EVCA this season behind Emu Creek's Simon Marwood's 163, which was also made against Axe Creek in round two.
The Panthers looked unlikey to get anywhere near a score of 342 early in their innings.
Marong was 2-1 after the dismissals of Thomas Huf (0) and Dylan Tonkin (0) and later 4-48.
However, Ross and Richard Murphy set about rebuilding the innings with a 95-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Murphy made 51 - his third half-century in his past four innings as his consistent form continued.
Murphy was dismissed by Brock Watts (1-73) with the score on 143, paving the way for Nick Ede to join Ross for a dominant sixth-wicket partnership.
Ross and Ede put on 176 for the sixth wicket, taking the score from 143 to 319.
Ede's 76 was his third half-century of the season, taking his tally of runs to 322.
Ross' superb innings also came to an end with the score on 319 when he was run-out.
Captain Travis Nolan (2-38) was the only multiple wicket-taker for Axe Creek, which conceded its fourth score above 300 for the season. David Cannings took four catches for the Cowboys.
• Spring Gully has given itself a chance of upsetting top-of-the-ladder West Bendigo.
The Redbacks faltered with the bat when they were dismissed for 139 at OTH Oval.
Liam Pilcher (4-32) and Des Gilmore (4-32) were both superb with the ball for the Crows.
Among Pilcher's wickets was the key dismissal of West Bendigo coach Matt Dwyer (9).
West Bendigo was strongly-placed in its innings at 2-99.
However, the dismissal of opener Travis O'Connell (36) was the catalyst for a collapse in which the Redbacks lost their last eight wickets for just 40 runs to be bowled out in the 62nd over.
Only O'Connell, Ken Bell (32) and captain Dion Prange (16) made double figures for the Redbacks.
Spring Gully has made a shaky start to its run-chase after going to stumps at 2-10.
Among the wickets to fall were the Crows' captain and leading run-scorer for the season, Jayden Mannix (1).
• Bowlers dominated the clash between Maiden Gully and Golden Gully at Evolution Oval.
The day included 17 wickets falling for 225 runs.
Maiden Gully was bowled out for 122 batting first, but has given itself a shot of winning its second game of the season with the Cobras ending the day under pressure at 7-103.
Simon Cole (54) played a lone hand with the bat for Maiden Gully, which was in trouble from the outset when it slumped to 4-19.
Opening bowler Cameron Moore (4-20) and Travis Eckardt (4-22) bagged four wickets each for the Cobras, who lost a flurry of wickets late in the day in their chase.
The Cobras had been cruising at 3-93, but trouble struck when they lost 4-9 as Maiden Gully charged back into the game.
With the Cobras - who've had Nathan Shatwell (38) top-score in the innings so far - to resume at 7-103, they need 20 runs to win with three wickets in hand.
Steven Hirst (2 n.o.) and Shaun O'Shea (0 n.o.) are the not out batsmen.
Brett Haw (3-24), Paul Martin (2-16) and Shane Rabbitt (2-29) all have multiple wickets for Maiden Gully.
• Emu Creek's batsmen have put it in control in its game against Mandurang at Pearce Reserve.
In the battle of last year's grand finalists, the Emus blasted 8-337.
The innings was spearheaded by half-centuries from Shaun Cattanach (90), captain Daniel Chamberlain (73) - who is averaging 50 in his past five innings - and Simon Marwood (66).
Mandurang used nine different bowlers, with Ben Rodda (3-38) the only multiple wicket-taker.
• United is well on track to defeat Sedgwick at Club Court.
The Tigers bowled out the aggressive Rams for 181 in 45.5 overs and at stumps were 1-74 in reply.
Sedgwick opener Damien Coppock followed his 67 up last week with 60 as he and Zac Poole (30) put on 91 for the first wicket.
However, after a positive start, the Rams were unable to capitalise as wickets tumbled regularly, including their last four for just five runs.
None of Sedgwick's last four batsmen scored a run between them.
Andrew Gaul (4-24) continued his fine all-round season for the Tigers, taking the last four wickets to fall, while Brenton Dillon chipped in with 3-26.
Andrew Collins (24 n.o.) and captain Forbes Klemm (5 n.o.) will continue the run-chase this Saturday for the Tigers, who need 108 more to win.