HAVING been one of the competition's battlers of recent seasons, Golden Gully is on the cusp of an Emu Valley Cricket Association finals berth after defeating Marong on Saturday.
With one round remaining in the season, the Cobras dislodged the Panthers from the top four with their 87-run victory at Marong Links Oval.
Resuming the day at 3-23 in reply to Marong's 82, the Cobras lost only one more wicket in mowing their total down before they were bowled out for 169.
Keeper-batsman Nathan Hamblin anchored the run-chase with a knock of 50, while Phillip Moore later frustrated the Marong bowlers with an unbeaten 60.
At one stage Golden Gully lost 4-1 as it fell from 5-93 to 9-94, but by then it was a case of too little too late for the Panthers.
With the Panthers on the verge of wrapping up the innings, Moore and Travis Eckardt (17) combined to put on 75 for the last wicket to push the score to 169.
Captain Jeremy Ross was brilliant with the ball for the Panthers, claiming the superb figures of 7-45 off 22 overs.
Five of Ross' seven wickets were unassisted.
• Sedgwick pulled off one of the upsets of the season as it clung on for an eight-run win over reigning premier Emu Creek at Club Court.
The Emus were well on track to chase down the Rams' 252 when they were 7-242.
However, the Rams took the last three wickets for just two runs to bowl the Emus out for 244 and win their third game of the season.
The Emus' late capitulation followed opener Brad Rowe (51), Shaun Cattanach (45) and Shane Hamilton (37) helping put the side into what had been a strong position in its chase.
Jordan Ilsley (3-30) and veteran Scott McKenzie (2-47) - who took the match-winning wicket when Dave Francis (15) was stumped by Damien Coppock - were the Rams' leading wicket-takers.
• The clash of top-four teams United and West Bendigo ended in a draw at Ewing Park following a rain-affected day one.
Resuming at 5-246, the Tigers batted on for 4.4 more overs and added 45 runs before declaring at 6-291, with Josh Filo finishing 39 n.o.
West Bendigo answered with 4-223, leaving the match a draw under ordinary conditions.
Joel Purdy (77) top-scored for the Redbacks in an innings where he put on 112 for the third wicket with Ken Bell (45), who continued his solid form with the bat.
Of the nine bowlers used by United, Jacob Piccoli (2-19) was the only multiple wicket-taker.
• Spring Gully won its fourth game, defeating Axe Creek by 58 runs in their one-day match at OTH Oval.
A knock of 79 from Shaun Makepeace helped the Crows to 8-209 off their 40 overs batting first.
Captain Travis Nolan was the Cowboys' leading wicket-taker with 4-47 off six overs.
In reply, Axe Creek made a solid start with a 56-run opening partnership between Charles Ready (22) and Anthony Rogers (34).
However, the Cowboys quickly lost their way, losing 4-6 to crash to 4-62.
The Cowboys' innings lasted into the 37th over before they were bowled out for 151.
Luke Hutchins (4-49) was Spring Gully's leading bowler and was instrumental in sparking the Cowboys' top-order collapse.
• Mandurang crushed bottom side Maiden Gully by 168 runs in their one-day game at Pearce Reserve.
The Rangas scored at more than seven an over in blasting 8-297 batting first.
Opener Matt Giri set the tone for the Rangas, pummelling 73 off just 42 balls, which included six fours and five sixes
Giri's opening partner, Rhys Williams, added 49 (six fours, one six).
Eight of the Rangas' batsmen scored at least 15 during the run-feast.
Jack Stagg (1-29 off six) was the only Maiden Gully bowler not to concede at least six runs an over.
Maiden Gully was dismissed for 129 in reply, with only Simon Cole (47), captain Brenden Pearce (27) and Brett Haw (13) scoring in double figures.
Cain Ladiges (3-11) returned the best figures for the Rangas. Kieran Burns (2-10) and Sean Rashleigh (2-9) took two wickets each.