READ MORE - Golden Square v Huntly-North Epsom | PHOTOS
JUST three points are separating White Hills, Kangaroo Flat and Strathfieldsaye from third to fifth on the BDCA ladder with one round remaining.
With Strathdale-Maristians (64 points) and Huntly-North Epsom (63) both being assured of their finals positions, the Demons (42), Roos (39) and Jets (39) are all in a thrilling last-round fight to join them.
Sixth-placed Golden Square (33) is still a mathematical chance of making the finals, but is very much a rank outsider following its loss to Huntly-North Epsom on Saturday.
Square, defending 7-235, was thwarted by a second-consecutive century to Huntly-North Epsom's Danushka Wijemanna.
Wijemanna backed up his 177 against Bendigo last round with 112 as the Power answered with 7-237 at Wade Street - albeit the reigning premiers lost top spot on the ladder to Strathdale-Maristians.
Wijemanna started his innings in the 18th over at 2-44 and was quick to pick up from where he left off last round, with his third scoring shot a six off Scott Johnson (1-26).
Wijemanna - who now has 581 runs for the season - and Sandun Ranathunga (56) put on 102 for the third wicket, while the game was still up for grabs in the 61st over with the Power at 5-181.
But 20 overs later the Power had the victory sewn up, with Elliott Massina (8 n.o.) and Lewis Stabler (19 n.o.) at the crease when the victory was secured.
Wijemanna's innings ended when he was bowled by Scott Trollope (1-34) just after the second session drinks break, with the Sri Lankan very much proving a thorn in the side for Golden Square given his unbeaten 89 against the Bulldogs in last year's grand final.
Six of the eight bowlers used by Golden Square took a wicket.
STRATHDALE-MARISTIANS v BENDIGO
A Chris Sole-inspired Strathdale-Maristians recorded the first outright victory of the season as the Suns secured maximum points against Bendigo at Bell Oval.
Resuming their second innings already at a shaky 3-12, the Goers had no answer to the pace of Sole, who snared the best figures of his senior career of 8-22 off 14.3 overs.
Sole's figures were also the best in first XI history at Strathdale's Bell Oval, surpassing the 8-57 Richard Murphy took for the Suns in 1994-95.
Having been bowled out for 109 in their first innings - which featured a dramatic late collapse of 6-2 - the Goers were all out for a mere 68 in their second hit, with their two innings lasting just over 77 overs combined.
After going wicket-less in the first innings, Sole's 8-22 followed his 4-51 against Kangaroo Flat the previous round, giving him 12 scalps from his past two games ahead of his fleeting overseas trip later this week for a Scotland Twenty20 squad training camp in Spain.
Only Mitch Blackman (27) and Ramdas Kamath (10) reached double figures in the Goers' second dig, while across their two innings Bendigo had seven players dismissed for a duck.
Needing 60 in their second innings to win outright, the Suns reached their target for the loss of three wickets just after the tea break, with opener Cameron Taylor finishing 21 n.o. to move to 895 runs for the season.
The result was the second time Strathdale-Maristians have beaten Bendigo outright in their past five encounters and also earned the Suns back top spot on the ladder.
"We were keen to try to get back to the top of the table. It's a good position to be in on top of the ladder heading into the last round," Suns' captain Ben DeAraugo said.
KANGAROO FLAT v SANDHURST
Kangaroo Flat held onto fourth position with a 25-run win over Sandhurst at Dower Park.
Chasing the Roos' 286 the Dragons were bowled out for 261, with opener Shasheen Fernando just falling short of consecutive centuries.
Coming off an unbeaten 109 against Golden Square last round when he batted for all 85 overs, Fernando again had a lengthy stay at the crease.
Fernando batted for 232 minutes and 172 balls in making 97, but fell three runs short of a ton when caught by wicket-keeper Riley Burns, who earlier in the day smashed 154 off 97 balls in the under-18 game.
The Dragons had plenty of starts in their innings - five players made between 20 and 33 - but only Fernando went on with it.
There was some late resistance from the Dragons, who after losing 3-0 to fall from 5-209 to 8-209 had Ben Evans (30) and Sam Sperling (20) add 51 for the ninth wicket.
Captain Brent Hamblin (4-47), Kenny Beith (3-65) and Adam Burns (2-34), who bowled off only a handful of steps after suffering an abductor strain during Melbourne Country Week, were multiple wicket-takers for the Roos.
Saturday was the last game of the season for Roos' star Englishman Ben Birkhead, who is now headed off to Mumbai with his County club Yorkshire.
BENDIGO UNITED v STRATHFIELDSAYE
Strathfieldsaye is breathing a sigh of relief after Callum McCarty and Jed Rodda got the Jets over the line against Bendigo United at Harry Trott Oval.
Starting the day at a dicey 5-51 chasing the Redbacks' 96 the Jets slipped to 7-81 following the dismissals of Pat Felmingham (20) and Jack Stubbs (15).
However, needing to win to keep themselves on the cusp of the top four, McCarty (32), who showed great maturity under pressure to bat for 178 minutes, and Rodda (19) combined to lift the Jets past their target before Strathfieldsaye was bowled out for 120.
While beaten, it was a memorable performance with the ball for the Redbacks' Ashley Younghusband (5-12 off 13.1 overs), who claimed his first BDCA five-wicket haul, while he also ran out the Jets' Savith Priyan (0) last week.
EAGLEHAWK v WHITE HILLS
Eaglehawk lifted itself off the bottom of the ladder, winning its third game of the season against White Hills at Canterbury Park.
Resuming at 2-46 chasing the Demons' 89, the Hawks answered with 168 as the bulk of the runs came from opener Brendan Archbold (48), Nick Farley (44) and Nash Viney (43).
Archbold and Viney, who both made their highest first XI scores, added 89 for the third wicket, before the Hawks lost 4-1, but by then they had the points safely in the bag.
Dylan Bailie took 3-23 for the Demons, who were 7-127 in their second innings, with Farley following up his 44 with the bat by bagging 4-6 off four overs.
Eaglehawk v Kangaroo Flat, Strathdale-Maristians v Sandhurst, Bendigo United v Bendigo, Golden Square v Strathfieldsaye, Huntly-North Epsom v White Hills.
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