Round six of the Bendigo District Cricket Association was highlighted by heavy hitting, big scores, a one-run thriller and two more doses of the nervous 90s.
The one-run thriller was at Canterbury Park where Sandhurst upset the home side Eaglehawk.
The Borough needed two runs to win and one run to tie off the final two balls, but lost wickets on both deliveries to fall one run short.
In the first XI competition, 51 sixes were scored across the five matches, with 25 of them coming at Harry Trott Oval where Bendigo United's Clayton Holmes and White Hills' Ollie Geary put on a stunning hitting display.
Holmes made a remarkable 84 off just 38 balls in the Redbacks' win over White Hills, including nine sixes.
Earlier, Geary hit seven sixes of his own and he looked set to become the first player to score a century in first XI cricket this summer.
However, the 90s curse struck again.
Strathdale's Daniel Clohesy was dismissed twice in the 90s earlier this summer and Geary followed suit by being caught on the boundary for 96.
Minutes later out at Huntly, Bendigo's Kyle Humprhys finished 99 not out.
Humphrys started the final over of the innings 91 not out and made his way to 99 with one ball remaining.
The left-hander tried to hit the final ball through the leg-side, but it crashed into his pad and two leg-byes were scored.
While he would have been disappointed not to reach three figures, Humprhys' innings laid the foundation for an important win and snapped a rare run of low scores for the 2017-18 Cricketer of the Year winner.
White Hills' skipper Mitch Winter-Irving described Holmes' hitting as some of the cleanest he's ever seen.
Winter-Irving, who himself hits the ball as hard as any player in the BDCA, said the Demons had no answer to Holmes' ruthless barrage.
"I didn't think we bowled that badly,'' Winter-Irving said.
"It wasn't as if we bowled too short or bowled too many full tosses
"Credit to Clayton, he just kept hitting good balls for six. He just whacked the ball so cleanly and some of the sixes went so far back.
"I think the second ball he faced he hit Rhys (Irwin) over the top of cover for four and I thought we could be in trouble. It was a tough day."
The Demons had set what they thought was a competitive total of 4-209.
Holmes scored 12 runs off his first 11 balls before going up a gear and bullying the Demons' shell shocked attack.
In his next 16 deliveries there were only balls he didn't score off as he raced to his half-century off just 27 balls.
Holmes didn't stop there. Four of his next eight scoring shots were sixes and he looked destined to post one of, if not, the fastest centuries in BDCA history.
Much to the disappointment of himself and Redbacks' supporters, Holmes' bid for a century fell short when he was clean bowled by Demons' spinner Jack Bourke (1-40).
Holmes walked off Harry Trott Oval with his team 1-101 off just 14.2 overs.
His departure slowed the run rate only slightly as Zane Keighran took his turn of finding, and clearing, the pickets.
Keighran hit five maximums on his way to 66 not out off 61 balls, while Riley Treloar finished 35 not out as the Redbacks cruised to victory by eight wickets with 57 balls remaining.
Holmes' demolition job overshadowed Ollie Geary's fine innings for White Hills.
The left-hander slammed 96 off 65 balls, including eight sixes and four fours, before he holed out on the second last ball of the innings trying to reach his century.
Geary was caught at long-on - centimeters inside the boundary.
Geary added 126 for the fourth wicket with Winter-Irving (31 not out).
Gavin Bowles (42) gave the Demons a solid start at the top of the order, before Redbacks' off-spinner Will Thrum (2-22) picked up two quick wickets.
Holmes was vital for the Redbacks with the ball as well. On a day where most bowlers copped some heavy treatment, the skipper conceded just 13 runs from his nine overs.
The victory lifted the Redbacks to a solid 5-1 at the Christmas break, while the Demons are in ninth place with a 1-5 record.
If Sandhurst qualifies for this season's BDCA finals, the Dragons will have Tony McMahon's final two deliveries of Saturday's clash with Eaglehawk to thank.
The Sandhurst paceman produced two perfectly delivered yorkers to allow his side to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Eaglehawk's Aaron Monro and Jordan Shelton had done a great job to bat the Hawks back into the game after they had slipped to 8-143 chasing Sandhurst's score of 9-173.
With one over remaining the Hawks required seven to win, but when Shelton and Monro whittled the equation down to two runs to win off the final two balls it appeared as though the Borough would pinch a stunning victory or, at least, force the game into a super over.
McMahon had other ideas.
With the penultimate delivery he bowled a yorker which Monro could only clamp down on and the ball squeezed straight to Sandhurst skipper Joel Murphy at short mid-wicket.
Shelton took off from the non-striker's end, but Monro stood in his crease.
Murphy ran to the bowlers' end and whipped the bails off to dismiss Shelton.
With the final delivery McMahon bowled another yorker which took the inside edge of Monro's bat and crashed into the stumps.
The Dragons celebrated like they'd won a final, while the Hawks were left shattered.
"To end up on the right side was really pleasing,'' Murphy said.
"To be 4-2 at the break, instead of 3-3, is a really nice position.
"Full credit to Tony. For him to bowl the way he did with all the pressure on him was unreal."
Sandhurst's win was set up by its talented young batting prospects.
Nahid Hossain made a fine 49 off 56 balls and Jasper Langley made 38 off 50 balls to give the Dragons a competitive score.
Leg-spinner Russell Stockdale (4-43) was best with the ball for the Borough.
In reply, Eaglehawk struggled to put together a meaningful partnership.
The Hawks had eight players reach double figures, but the highest score for the day was 26 from Brendan Archbold.
Sandhurst's spin trio - Dylan Gibson (2-19), Ben Evans (2-29) and Nathan Walsh (1-24) tied the Hawks down.
The Christmas turkey won't taste as nice for the Hawks, who missed a golden opportunity to grab a two-game lead on Sandhurst and Bendigo going into the break.
Instead they slip to 4-2 and back in the pack.
Strathfieldsaye made it five wins from six games when it defeated Golden Square by seven wickets at Tannery Lane.
The Jets had the Dogs in all sorts of trouble at 2-2, then 3-4 and 4-31, before veteran Scott Johnson and Tom Campbell batted the visitors back into the game.
They added 84 for the fifth wicket before Campbell fell for 44.
Johnson finished 65 not out off 120 balls in Square's score of 7-157.
Jed Rodda, who claimed the first two wickets of the day, had the fine figures of 3-16 off nine overs.
The Jets, who were without regular opener Tim Wood, lost Pat Felmingham early for one.
Cal McCarty and Abe Sheahan then set about forming a long partnership.
The young duo didn't tear the Square attack apart, but they ground their side to victory with a 130-run stand.
McCarty fell for 67 off 111 balls, while Sheahan batted through the innings to be 63 not out off 133 balls.
The Jets won with seven balls to spare.
Bendigo goes into the break just one win outside of the top four after inflicting Huntly-North Epsom's sixth-straight loss.
Humphrys was back to his brilliant best as he compiled 99 not out off 128 balls to lead the Goers to 6-196.
He received great support from Aden Shanahan (42 off 53 balls), who produced his best innings at first XI level.
Adam Ward (4-49) was the pick of the Power bowlers.
At 4-51, the Power's run chase looked set for an early finish until Ward came out all guns blazing.
He raced to 43 off 33 balls before falling caught and bowled to Bendigo skipper Nathan Fitzpatrick.
The Power lost their final six wickets for 25 runs to be all out 141.
Dylan Johnstone (5-25) and Fitzpatrick (4-13) took nine of the 10 wickets between them.
The medium-pacers were rewarded for their disciplined bowling.
"The last two times we've batted first we were in similar positions where we were 3-90 off 30 overs and needed to accelerate, but we lost a wicket and ended up getting 160 instead of pushing on to 200,'' Fitzpatrick said.
"Today it was good to push on and get close to 200. Aden Shanahan batted really well, ran hard between wickets and hit some nice boundaries.
"(With the ball) I thought Matty Gray bowled really well early and Dylan Johnston bowled really good lines.
"Wardy had the potential to take the game away from us, but we knew if we could get him out that we'd be able to dry things up."
Strathdale-Maristians won the battle of last year's grand finalists by 58 runs.
Jack Neylon returned to his best form in making 78 off 67 balls in the Suns' score of 5-243.
Neylon, who had made 54 runs in total for the season prior to Saturday, hit five fours and five sixes in his 86-minute knock.
Daniel Clohesy (39), Cam Taylor (32) and Sam Johnston (30 not out off 24 balls) also made good contributions with the bat.
Kangaroo Flat siblings Chris and Daniel Barber gave the Suns something to think about.
The Barber boys belted 57 off the first five overs of the Roos' run chase.
That was enough for Taylor to bench the quicks and introduce spin. It worked.
The opening stand did reach 73 off 50 balls, but once James Barri removed Daniel Barber (42 off 35 balls) and Chris Barber (21) fell five balls later the momentum swung the Suns' way.
Jake Klemm batted well to make 36 off 53 balls, Ryan Harling made 20 off 52 balls, Dylan Klemm added 24, while Matt Dwyer's struggles with spin continued as he fell to Ben DeAraugo (3-27), who ditched the medium-pacers this week and bowled off-spin.
Barri (2-21) did a fine job with the ball and Johnston (3-39) cleaned up the tail.
"It was a good finish for us leading into the break,'' Taylor said.
"We were pleased with how we batted and we were pleased with how we bowled.
"We know that it's never far away with Jack (Neylon), but it's good to get that one under his belt before Christmas.
"It's good to know that we've done well without him making big scores.
"In terms of our bowling... I thought they (the Barber boys) played some really good shots. The wicket was easier to bat on when the pace was on the ball.
"We took the pace off the ball and that worked for us."
Bendigo United 30
Golden Square 12
Kangaroo Flat 6
White Hills 6
Huntly-North Epsom 0
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