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HUNTLY-North Epsom shook off an early surge with the ball from Bendigo on Saturday to retain top spot on the Bendigo District Cricket Association ladder.
In a round that will go down in BDCA history as the weekend the umpires went on strike, Danushka Wijemanna led the recovery for the Power after they had been on the ropes against the Goers at Huntly.
The Power were reeling at 3-10 in the 10th over, with Ryan Grundy (0), Sandun Ranathunga (0) and Anthony Tanner (6) all back in the shed after Jotham Higgs (twice) and Alex Pearson (once) struck early for the up-and-about Goers.
Yet from 3-10 the reigning premiers fought back superbly to amass 9-281 before declaring in the 74th over.
Wijemanna was the hero for the Power, turning his first century for the club into a monster 177.
It was a well overdue century for Wijemanna, who before Saturday had reached 50 nine times since joining the club last season.
Beginning his innings in the second over, Wijemanna's 177 came off 211 balls with 16 boundaries and five sixes.
With Wijemanna the mainstay of the fightback, he received support from Adam Ward (28), Ajith Rajapaksha (21), captain Elliott Massina (20) and Jarrod Hodoras (15).
Since 2000 only the double centuries of Greg O'Brien (204 n.o. in 2005-06) and Ryan Grundy (201 n.o. in 2012-13) surpass Wijemanna's brilliant knock on Saturday at the Power.
After their early breakthroughs Pearson (3-73) and Higgs (2-47) finished with five wickets between them for the Goers, who went to stumps on Saturday night already under pressure in their chase at 1-10 with skipper Shane Koop (7) out.
And it didn't get any better for the Goers on Sunday, who fell 20 short of even being able to match the effort of Wijemanna when they were all out for 157.
The Power's Brett Elvey (3-14) applied the screws to the Goers, with his 17 overs going for just 14 runs, while also picking up three wickets.
Leg-spinner Sandun Ranathunga (3-28) also snared three wickets, while wicket-keeper Rajapaksha grasped four catches.
The Goers had been 7-68 and in danger of being bundled out for less than 100, but the pair of Kayle Thompson (55) and Mitch Blackman (28) were able to stem the tide for 80 minutes with a 79-run partnership.
BENDIGO UNITED v EAGLEHAWK
You could have been forgiven for thinking Bendigo United was the top side rather than the bottom side the way it dismantled Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park.
Such was the carnage inflicted by the Redbacks - led by Leigh McDermott and Tom Batters - they already had their win sewn up on the first day in a result that lifted them off the bottom of the ladder and replaced by the Hawks, while the icing on the cake came on Sunday when Harry Donegan scored his maiden first XI century.
The Redbacks routed Eaglehawk for just 63 - the Hawks' lowest score during the 2000s - as McDermott and Batters combined for eight wickets.
Veteran McDermott wound back the clock with a devastating new-ball spell that had the Hawks languishing at 5-15 in the 17th over.
At that stage McDermott had figures of 4-5 off 7.3 overs before going on to finish with 4-7 off nine.
Batters kept the blowtorch on the Hawks to bag 4-20 off 14 overs, while skipper Miggy Podosky's seven overs, which included six maidens, cost just four runs.
Only Nick Farley (21) and Josh Williams (10) scored in double figures for the Hawks, with the pair putting on 28 for the eighth wicket that took them from 7-29 to 57.
By stumps the Redbacks were 2-65 and with just their fourth win in their past 37 games safely in the bag, with the game continuing until tea on Sunday before stumps were pulled with Bendigo United 6-179.
The highlight of the innings for the Redbacks was Donegan breaking through for his first century as he finished unbeaten on 105.
Playing his first game in the first XI for the season, opener Donegan did have an anxious moment though closing in on three figures when he was dropped at mid-off on 98.
Donegan, who made his first XI debut in 2008-09, faced 215 balls and struck six boundaries and one six.
Angus Chisholm (2-9) and Josh Williams (2-36) took two wickets each for the Hawks, who have lost six in a row and are now in rare wooden spoon danger.
Opening bowler Tom Saker's six overs for the Hawks cost just one run.
STRATHFIELDSAYE v WHITE HILLS
White Hills has given itself some breathing space in the top four after a gritty win over Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane.
The crucial 18-run win now has White Hills nine points clear in third position, while the Jets' defeat cost them the chance of climbing into the top four.
On Saturday after White Hills won the toss and batted, Strathfieldsaye captain Ben Devanny picked up from where he left off the week before with the ball.
Coming off 4-11 from 15 overs against Bendigo last week, Devanny backed it up with a five-wicket haul, while also drying the runs up in the Demons' tally of 146.
Devanny bagged 5-22 off 16.1 overs, giving him 9-33 off 31.1 in his past two outings.
His first spell of 10 overs netted 3-5, with seven maidens, and included the two key scalps of Demons' captain Mitch Winter-Irving (20) and Gavin Bowles (1), who were both caught by wicket-keeper Jack Stubbs.
As well as Devanny's five-for, the Jets also had imports Savith Priyan (3-36) and Chathura Damith (2-23) take multiple scalps as they kept the heat on the Demons all innings.
The best partnership of the White Hills innings was the 60 Mick Peters (35) and Jack Bourke (24) added for the seventh wicket after the Demons had been 6-82.
Peters' 35 was the only score above 30 for the match.
With just 146 on the board to defend, the Demons gave themselves an early shot in the arm, removing openers Zoltan Smyth (0) and Seamus Dwyer (0) for ducks before the Jets closed day one at 2-13.
The Jets looked to have the upper hand on day two when they had worked their way to 5-105 with key batsmen Devanny and Damith at the crease.
Enter the Demons' Winter-Irving.
Winter-Irving orchestrated a Jets' collapse, taking four of the last five wickets to fall as Strathfieldsaye lost 5-23 to be all out for 128.
Winter-Irving dismissed Devanny (29), Damith (17), Stubbs (0) and Pat Felmingham (17) in his superb spell, and having also picked up the wicket of Savith Priyan (24) earlier in the day he finished with 5-27 off 16 overs.
Irwin (2-21) sent down 20 tight overs and conceded just 21 runs, while it was a productive innings behind the stumps for wicket-keeper Jayden Sheean, who took six catches.
KANGAROO FLAT v STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS
Strathdale-Maristians' star Cameron Taylor continued his push towards the BDCA's season record for runs with another 82 in the Suns' win against Kangaroo Flat at Dower Park.
Taylor's 82 in the Suns' score of 258 batting first took his season tally to 844 runs - 118 shy of the 962 benchmark set by Kangaroo Flat's Tony Taig in 2003-04.
Left-hander Taylor's 82 was his sixth score above 50 from 10 innings this season, with this knock lasting 146 balls and including nine fours and one six.
The Suns' innings also featured 60 from Sam Johnston in what was a far more subdued innings to the free-scoring he's renowned for.
Johnston's 60 came off 127 balls and after coming in with the Suns 5-148 he was the last batsman out as Roos' recruit Kenny Beith claimed his first five-wicket haul in the BDCA.
As well as removing Johnston, medium-pacer Beith's 5-60 off 21.2 overs included the dismissal of Taylor, who he bowled.
Having got their chase away to a flyer on Sunday through openers Ben Birkhead (58) and Chris Barber (33), who put on 60, the Roos only had one other partnership of substance as they were bowled out for 218.
The classy Birkhead's 58 was his second-consecutive half-century, while Josh Collinson overcame an early nasty blow from Chris Sole to his helmet that forced him to retire hurt on 0 to return and make 49.
Collinson and veteran Adam Burns (29) added 66 for the seventh wicket for the Roos, taking the score from 6-128 to 194.
The Roos still had more than 12 overs left unused against a Suns' attack that had paceman Sole (4-51) and leg-spinner Taylor (3-46) combine for seven wickets.
GOLDEN SQUARE v SANDHURST
Golden Square's momentum continued, winning a third game in a row that now has it just percentage outside the top four.
The Bulldogs proved too strong for an undermanned Sandhurst that had opener Shasheen Fernando carry his bat on Saturday.
Fernando anchored the Dragons' 6-234 at Wade Street with his second century of the season.
Fernando finished unbeaten on 109 from a 235-ball, 303-minute stay at the crease for a Dragons side that had only Shane Robinson (5) playing from their premiership team just two years ago.
Being led by stand-in captain Joel Murphy (0), momentum was against the Dragons when they fell from 1-82 to 5-98 just before tea.
However, Square took just one more wicket after the tea break as Fernando and Will Gadsden (59) - who notched his maiden first XI half-century - batted the Dragons out of their dicey position with a 117-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Captain Liam Smith (3-59) and Connor Miller (2-21) took five wickets between them for Square, which suffered a blow when Scott Trollope (0-17) was forced from the field just before tea with an ankle injury, although he did bat on Sunday.
Square took into the 79th over to chase its target down, reaching 7-235 with the main contributions coming from Alex Code (59), Kyle Chant (40), Scott Johnson (32) and Trollope (23).
The Dragons' defence got off to a promising start when Jack Ryan removed Square dangerman Ryan Hartley (7) in what was the first of his four wickets.
Ryan finished with 4-59 off 23 overs, while youngster Reilley Porter, who also took the new ball, claimed his first wicket in the first XI when he bowled Johnson.
Golden Square's win, coupled with losses to Kangaroo Flat and Strathfieldsaye, now leaves the Roos, Square and Jets all on 33 points and separated by just percentage from fourth to sixth.
ROUND 11 TOP PERFORMERS
177 - Danushka Wijemanna
109* - Shasheen Fernando
105* - Harry Donegan
82 - Cameron Taylor
60 - Sam Johnston
59 - Alex Code
59 - Will Gadsden
5-22 - Ben Devanny
5-27 - Mitch Winter-Irving
5-60 - Kenny Beith
4-7 - Leigh McDermott
4-20 - Tom Batters
4-51 - Chris Sole
4-59 - Jack Ryan
Eaglehawk v White Hills
at Canterbury Park
Kangaroo Flat v Sandhurst
at Dower Park
Strathdale-Maristians v Bendigo
at Bell Oval
Bendigo United v Strathfieldsaye
at Harry Trott Oval
Golden Square v Huntly-North Epsom
at Wade Street
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