THE three ordinary conditions matches that had implications on the Bendigo District Cricket Association top four all petered out to dull draws on Saturday.
Strathdale-Maristians, Bendigo United, Eaglehawk, White Hills and Huntly-North Epsom all remain separated by just six points from second to sixth on the ladder after they all earned three points for draws on Saturday following week-one washouts.
With one round remaining and only Golden Square assured of a finals berth, the BDCA is now set for one of the most exciting finishes in its history as five teams vie for the last three finals spots.
While there were three draws on Saturday, there were also two results, with Golden Square defeating a gallant Strathfieldsaye and Sandhurst conjuring a win over Kangaroo Flat in their ordinary conditions match.
• At Tannery Lane, Strathfieldsaye didn't go down without a fight against Golden Square in the continuation of the only game that made a start last week.
Needing 307 to upset the ladder-leaders, the Jets fell 15 short as they answered with 8-292.
The Jets' run-chase was led by captain Ben Devanny's second century of the season.
Coming in with the score 2-66, Devanny belted 11 boundaries in his 100, which followed his earlier 128 not out against Kangaroo Flat in round six.
Devanny shapes as one of the leading contenders for this season's BDCA Cricketer of the Year Award, having now combined 465 runs with 23 wickets.
Young opener Hamish Schumacher (44), Levi Walker (49), Joshua Williams (36 n.o.) and Jack Stubbs (26 n.o.) were others to bat well for the Jets, whose score of 292 was the highest Golden Square has conceded this season.
Devanny and Walker put on the best partnership of the innings with their 117 for the fifth wicket that took the score from 4-110 to 227.
The victory improved Golden Square's record to an unblemished 12-0.
Grant Connelly (3-75), Scott Woodman (2-58) - who dismissed Devanny - and spinner Jamie Bysouth (2-61) were the multiple wicket-takers for Square.
• Sandhurst and Kangaroo Flat turned their ordinary conditions match into a one-day game at Advanced Landscaping Oval.
In the clash between the two bottom sides, the Dragons won by six wickets in a result that ensured the Roos will claim this season's wooden-spoon.
Having won the toss and batted, the Roos compiled 8-163 before declaring after 40 overs.
There were plenty of starts in the Kangaroo Flat innings, but only Daniel Barber (30 off 68), Liam Jones (27 off 22) - who is one of the form lower-order batsmen of the BDCA - and Lachlan Shelton (21 off 32) got past 20.
In his debut first XI innings, Liam Collins made a sprightly 18 n.o. off 15 balls, putting on 33 for the eighth wicket with Jones.
Steve Becker was the standout bowler for the Dragons with his 3-28 off 13 overs.
His three wickets were the Roos' top-three batsmen - Josh Newlan (9), Brent Hamblin (11) and Shelton.
Josh Sheehan (1-26) claimed his first wicket in the first XI when he bowled Kangaroo Flat captain Adam Burns (15).
The game was up for grabs during Sandhurst's run-chase when the Dragons were 4-86.
But it was the experienced pair of captain Craig Howard and Shane Robinson who combined to thwart Kangaroo Flat for the second time this season.
Howard (55 n.o. off 66, six fours, one six) and Robinson (30 n.o. off 27, three fours) guided the Dragons to victory in the 39th over with an unbroken stand of 79 as Sandhurst answered with 4-165.
When the Dragons defeated the Roos back in round eight, Howard and Robinson put on 142 for the fourth wicket.
Ned Slater also continued his impressive form for the Dragons with 39 off 63 (four fours).
Brent Hamblin (2-47) picked up two of the four wickets for Kangaroo Flat, removing openers Nick Scullie (18) and Becker (5).
• Strathdale-Maristians made the most of the invitation to bat, blasting 8-348 in its draw against Huntly-North Epsom at Bell Oval.
The innings was highlighted by a second century in a row to opening batsman Travis King.
King again showed his class with 111 off 169 balls (16 fours, one six), with his ton following his unbeaten 103 against Bendigo United last round.
The left-hander is now the competition's leading run-scorer with 558 at an average of 62.0.
With an unbeaten 119 as well against Bendigo in round three, King now has three tons for the season.
Also getting among the runs for the Suns were captain Linton Jacobs (81 off 129, 10 fours, two sixes) in his 150th game for the Suns and Ben DeAraugo (81 off 72, six fours, six sixes).
Both shared in partnerships of more than 100 with King.
All-rounder DeAraugo's 81 was his fifth half-century of the season, but that maiden ton continues to elude him.
Having battled with the bat this season, there were good signs for Nick Baker as he finished unbeaten on 40 off 72 (five fours).
The Suns' score of 348 came after they had been under pressure early at 2-9 following the cheap dismissals of the Power's nemesis Adrian Pappin (0) and Cameron Taylor (8).
The Power's key bowling duo of Sam Johnston (3-119) and captain Quinton Bentley (3-75) combined for six wickets.
• Bendigo United finished 5-206 after it was sent into bat by White Hills in their drawn match at KWD Oval.
Opener Mark Di Fede made the most of his recall to the team with 82 off 221 (11 fours).
Di Fede was well supported by Bryan Vance (44 off 118), who was elevated up the order to No.3 in the absence of Heath Behrens, who is nursing a knee problem.
Di Fede and Vance put on 91 for the second wicket following the early dismissal of opener Matt Pinniger (2) by Rhys Irwin.
Nick Crawford later gave his batting average a boost with an unbeaten 38 off 76 (four fours).
Ten White Hills players bowled, with Gavin Bowles finishing with 2-22, while openers Irwin (1-29 off 17) and Adrian Holland (0-17 off 12) were both economical.
• Eaglehawk scored 3-218 against Bendigo before play was abandoned after 73 overs in their draw at Bendigo District RSL Oval.
The Hawks were sent in and openers Jason Abbott and Andrew Smith capitalised, putting on 131 for the first wicket.
The openers both made half-centuries - Smith scoring 80 and captain Abbott making 67, his fourth score above 50 this season.
The Goers didn't take their first wicket until the 53rd over when Smith was bowled by Jotham Higgs (1-51).
Abbott and Smith laid the ground work, while Zac East (38 n.o.) and Matt Fitt (24 n.o.) later finished off with an unbroken stand of 60 for the fourth wicket.