AFTER taking until its final game of the year last season to win its first match, this time California Gully is immediately on the board in the Emu Valley Cricket Association.
The Cobras have been the wooden spooners of the past two seasons, but if Saturday's performance against Emu Creek is anything to go by, they are in for a vastly improved 2019-20 under new captain Marcus McKern.
Having been sent in by the Emus at JG Edwards Oval, the Cobras overcame the loss of two early wickets to crack 221 in their season-opening one-dayer.
Opener Aidan White (52, including 11 boundaries), Jordan Knight (46), Shaun O'Shea (39) and recruit Jack Francis (28) were the chief run-scorers for the Cobras.
White and Knight put together a steadying 77-run partnership for the third wicket after the Cobras had been 2-7 early.
Luke Bennett (3-58) and the returning Justin Hancock (3-26) both picked up three wickets for the Emus, who squandered a strong start in their chase.
Openers Bennett (42) and Coby Hansen (17) put on 57 for the first wicket, and while the Emus batted out their 40 overs they finished well short of their target at 9-167 to go down by 54 runs.
The Emus twice lost clumps of wickets - 3-3 as they went from 1-67 to 4-70 and 3-1 to fall from 5-112 to 8-113.
Apart from Bennett, the only other Emu Creek batsman to make more than 20 was No.10 Patrick Blandford (29 n.o.).
Bradley Olson (3-13), O'Shea (2-26) and Jaidyn Taylor (2-18) were multiple wicket-takers for the Cobras, whose result on Saturday was in stark contrast to the last time they played the Emus when they were beaten outright.
Brad Webster produced the economical figures of 1-4 off eight overs, which included five maidens.
WEST BENDIGO v SEDGWICK
Reigning premier Sedgwick smashed the opening day's highest score in a 164-run rout of West Bendigo at Ken Wust Oval.
The Rams only had five members of last season's drought-breaking premiership team playing, but they dominated the Redbacks with bat and ball.
After bowling the Redbacks out for 95 the aggressive Rams scored at better than a run-a-ball in answering with 5-259.
Captain Greg Thomas batted through the innings for an unbeaten 64, while the middle-order trio of the evergreen Scott McKenzie (44 off 47), Alan Friswell (50 off 34) and Patrick Grelis (39 n.o. off 21) combined for 133 runs off just 102 balls, belting 20 fours and five sixes between them.
Reece Fitzpatrick (2-48) was West Bendigo's only multiple wicket-taker.
Earlier, Connor Robertson battled valiantly to try to hold the Redbacks' innings together.
Robertson's gritty 52 off 105 out of West Bendigo's 95 was the only double figure score in a disappointing Redbacks' innings.
Chris McCalman (2-12), Declan McMahon (2-31) and Jordan Ilsley (2-15) took two wickets each for the Rams, who are the first team to occupy top spot.
MAIDEN GULLY v AXE CREEK
Maiden Gully spoiled Axe Creek's return to division one following the Cowboys' three-season absence.
The Lions won by 65 runs after making the most of the invitation to bat first by posting 9-175.
Leigh Draper top-scored with 47, while Shane Rabbitt (30) and Rob Brown (20) added a valuable 45 for the eighth wicket after the Lions had been 7-124.
Captain Ash Dixon (3-22), Daniel Dixon (2-33) and Dean Comensoli (2-33) combined for seven wickets for the Cowboys, who were dismissed for 110 in reply.
The Cowboys had been 2-62 before their last eight wickets fell for 48 as Rabbitt (3-19), who is the round one leader in the Addy MVP with 105 points, and Dallas Gill (3-23) inflicted the bulk of the damage for the Lions.
Included in the loss of 8-48 was the Cowboys' final three wickets falling for just one run.
Opener Comensoli was the best of the Axe Creek batsmen with 40, which included seven boundaries.
SPRING GULLY v MARONG
Spring Gully continued its dominance of Marong, beating the Panthers for a sixth-consecutive time with a commanding 140-run victory.
Opening batsman Isaac McPherson fell just short of notching the season's first century, making 95 in the Crows' 6-243.
McPherson cracked 14 boundaries in his innings, while Jake Donegan (37), Rhys Webb (25), and Byron Perrin (26 n.o.) helped to keep the runs ticking over for the Crows.
While the Crows scored at 6.07 runs an over, Marong's Duane Anderson bucked the trend for the Panthers by only conceding nine runs off his five overs.
Lachlan Frischke's 2-30 for Marong included the wicket of McPherson, caught by keeper Scott Ross.
Marong's chances of chasing down its target were done and dusted early as the Panthers crashed to 6-35.
However, they kept the Crows out in the field for the full 40 overs, working their way to 9-103, with captain Tom Wilson finishing unbeaten on 35.
Captain James Fox led the Crows' attack with 3-31. All six Spring Gully bowlers used took a wicket.
MANDURANG v UNITED
United bowled Mandurang out for its lowest score since the Rangas returned to division one in 2009-10.
After making 6-166 batting first at Pearce Reserve, the Tigers then routed the Rangas for just 67 inside 28 overs to win by 99 runs.
United's Jacob Piccoli gave his bowling average an early-season boost with 3-7 off 3.4 overs, while captain Harry Whittle (2-15), Rhys Roberts (2-20) and Lachlan Shawyer (2-11) also got among the wickets.
While the Rangas struggled with the bat, the Tigers had plenty of contributions in their 6-166 earlier in the day led by Joe Hartney (36), Troy Young (34 n.o.) and Dooley Niemann (32).
James Pietromonaco (2-28) and Jeremy Hancock (2-38) took two wickets each for the Rangas.
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