WHITE Hills is one wicket away from giving itself a chance of playing in its first Bendigo District Cricket Association finals series since 1999 following a dramatic bowler-dominated day against Kangaroo Flat at Dower Park on Saturday.
Sitting fifth and needing a win to be any chance of playing finals, the Demons' hopes looked as good as gone against an Adam Burns-inspired Kangaroo Flat when they were bundled out for just 79.
Yet the Demons' meagre score of 79 quickly became what looked to be a match-winning total when the Roos slumped to an embarrassing 9-41 in their run-chase.
However, the Demons couldn't take the last wicket and the Roos will resume their innings at 9-63 this Saturday, with Tim Robertson (19 n.o.) and Shane Harling (4 n.o.) at the crease.
Earlier, Burns' decision to bowl first reaped dividends when the Demons were bundled out in the 46th over.
Burns tore through the Demons, bagging 6-13 off 13.2 overs - his best figures of the season.
At one stage Burns had figures of 4-5 as the Demons' top-order crumbled against the star left-armer.
White Hills had been 6-28 before Gavin Bowles (24 off 90, three fours) and Rhys Irwin (12 off 67) halted the flow of wickets with a 42-run stand.
But when Bowles was dismissed by Burns, the wickets tumbled again, with the Demons losing their last four for just nine runs to be all out for 79.
Only Bowles, Irwin and opener Brayden Stepien (16 off 25) scored in double figures for the Demons.
Four White Hills players were dismissed for ducks.
As well as Burns' six-for, Brent Hamblin (2-30) and Robertson (2-9) took two wickets each for the Roos.
Kangaroo Flat's chase got off to a horror start when opener Josh Newlan (0) was trapped lbw by Irwin first ball of the innings.
And from there it became a procession of wickets as Irwin and veteran Glenn Roulston bowled the Demons back into the game.
At one stage the Roos lost 8-19 to crash from 1-22 to 9-41 before Robertson and Harling survived the onslaught until stumps, edging Kangaroo Flat to within 17 runs of victory.
The loss of 8-19 also included the Roos losing 5-3 when they slumped from 3-32 to 8-35.
Apart from Robertson and opener Tyler Hinds (12), who was given a life when bowled by Irwin off a no-ball, no other Kangaroo Flat batsman reached double figures.
Roulston has the stunning figures of 4-4 off eight overs, while Irwin has 3-29 off 18 overs as his impressive season continued.
By the end of the day's play, 19 wickets had fallen for just 142 runs.
• Huntly-North Epsom has given itself a chance of securing the outright win it needs to be any chance of making the finals against a young and inexperienced Sandhurst at Poyser Motors Oval.
The sixth-placed Power have already won on first innings and have now set about trying to secure the maximum points.
Apart from Ned Slater, Sandhurst offered no resistance with the bat to be bowled out for 78.
Batting at No.3, Slater battled valiantly for the Dragons with 46 to carry on his good form.
Behind Slater, the next best score for the Dragons was five made by Elias Bowe - elevated from his usual No.10 or 11 to open the innings - and captain Craig Howard.
Playing against his former side, Quinton Bentley picked up 3-15 for the Power, while Sam Johnston (2-23) and Dylan Gibson (2-23), another ex-Sandhurst player, took two wickets each.
With the job done with the ball, the Power - who entered the last round one game outside the top four - wasted no time in chasing down its target, declaring at 3-82 after 20 overs.
Josh Collinson (29), Gibson (22 n.o.) and Liam Mottram (18) were the main run-scorers for the Power, whose declaration left eight overs to bowl at the Dragons in their second innings.
Again, the Dragons are in trouble, going to stumps at 3-23, of which Slater has scored an unbeaten 17.
Bentley (3-4) has all three second innings wickets to end the day with match figures of 6-19 off 15 overs.
• Bendigo United is headed to its 12th-consecutive finals series after already beating Bendigo in their game at Harry Trott Oval.
After upsetting the Redbacks by one wicket in one of the most remarkable wins of the season in round nine, there were no heroics this time for the Goers as they were skittled for just 64.
The Goers had no flow in their innings as their 64 runs took 49 overs - a run-rate of 1.3 per over.
The Redbacks' 49 overs included 22 maidens.
Bendigo United's strong bowling performance was led by Miggy Podosky (3-20 off 14 overs), captain Leigh McDermott (2-12 off nine) and Nick Crawford (2-11 off eight).
Wicket-keeper Liam Gaskell, who has batted well in the second half of the season, top-scored for the Goers with 21 off 58 as he worked hard to try to salvage the innings, while opener Kyle Chant (17 off 84) was the only other player to score in double figures.
The best partnership of the innings was the 18 that Gaskell and Matthew Gray (5) put on for the eighth wicket.
Bendigo United declared at 1-93 off 21 overs in reply, with opener Matt Pinniger equalling Bendigo off his own bat.
Pinniger finished unbeaten on 64 off just 55 balls (nine fours) to lift his tally of runs for the season to 583 at an average of 53.0.
Pinniger was the only first XI player on Saturday to score a half-century.
At stumps in its second innings, Bendigo is 2-29, with Mitch Blackman (14 n.o.) and Ryan Trickey (12 n.o.) to continue the innings this Saturday.
• Eaglehawk and Strathfieldsaye's game at Canterbury Park has reverted to ordinary conditions after rain halted play at 4:38pm, with the Hawks on the backfoot at 7-101.
Captain Ben Devanny's outstanding season continued, with the all-rounder already having taken a five-wicket haul for the Jets.
Devanny has 5-17 off 13 overs. It's the second year in a row Devanny has ran through Eaglehawk after he took 6-23 against the Hawks in round 12 last season.
The Hawks - clinging onto their position in the top four by just percentage - were under pressure at 4-38 before a 33-run stand between captain Jason Abbott (24) and Cameron McGlashan (19) took the score to 71.
But the Jets regained the momentum with three more wickets before the rain came to end the day on top.
Devanny's five wickets are the scalps of Anthony West (3), Zac East (18), Matt Fitt (0), McGlashan and Matt White (20), who were all caught.
• Strathdale-Maristians' leg-spinner Cameron Taylor took his third bag of at least five wickets this season with his 6-63 off 27 overs against Golden Square at MyJet Oval in the clash of first versus second.
Taylor's six wickets helped restrict Golden Square to 200 after the ladder-leaders had been 3-106.
The Golden Square innings had plenty of starts, with eight batsmen scoring at least 13.
But only patient opener Scott Johnson (49 off 155) got past 26.
Jake Higgins (26 off 84) was the next best of the batsmen for Square.
Taylor's 6-63 included the wickets of five of Golden Square's top six batsmen - Scott Johnson, David Blume (15), Tim Wood (17), Jason Johnson (20) and Higgins.
Taylor now has 28 wickets for the season, with Saturday following previous hauls of 5-41 against Bendigo in round three and 5-34 against Sandhurst in round six.
Ben DeAraugo (2-26) was also a multiple wicket-taker for the Suns, who must win to be assured of another finals appearance.