REIGNING premier Emu Creek has won its way back into the Emu Valley Cricket Association top four after putting an end to West Bendigo's momentum on Saturday.
In a pivotal contest between the two sides jostling for a berth in the finals the Emus won by 64 runs at J.G. Edwards Oval.
The victory ended West Bendigo's three-game winning streak as the Emus replaced the Redbacks in fourth position.
Led by a four-wicket bag from opening bowler Luke Bennett the Emus' decision to bowl first paid dividends when they knocked over the Redbacks for 149.
Bennett produced his best figures of the season with 4-23 off eight overs, beginning with the first two wickets of the day when he dismissed Bodee Scullie (11) and Tom Floyd (11).
Josh Martyn - the sixth bowled used - chimed in with 3-34, while Tyrone Downie (2-23) claimed two scalps for the Emus.
West Bendigo had been 4-140 in its innings before losing 6-9 to be all out in the final over, with the last three wickets all falling with the score on 149.
Experienced opener Travis O'Connell spent 105 minutes at the crease in compiling 34 to be the Redbacks' top-scorer, while Josh Eastley and Matt Gould each made 28.
It was a busy stint in the field for the Emus' Mark McGregor, who took three catches.
The Emus overcame the early loss of opener Alex Collins (0) with the score on one to post 9-213 in reply.
Captain Simon Marwood plundered 62 off just 42 balls with six fours and four sixes, while opener Brad Rowe was solid at the top of the order with 42.
Josh Leech took the last three wickets of the innings for the Redbacks to finish with 3-33.
* The runs flowed freely for United in its commanding win over California Gully at Ewing Park.
The Tigers made the most of the invitation to bat first, scoring at 7.4 runs per over in smashing 7-296.
Opening batsman Broderick Williams (86 off 76) and No.3 Pat Hartney (63 off 53) both scored half-centuries as the pair put on 114 for the second wicket and combined for 17 boundaries and four sixes.
Stand-in skipper Alex Code also had the runs ticking over with 46 off 36, while the Cobras didn't help their cause by bowling 20 wides among their 26 extras.
Eathan Collins (2-60) and Jacob Cassells (2-8) both took two wickets for the Cobras, who were held to 8-165 off their 40 overs in reply.
After coming in with the score at 3-51, Jaidyn Taylor batted out the remainder of the innings to finish 67 n.o. off 78 with 10 boundaries and two sixes.
All Tigers except wicket-keeper Tom Calvert had a bowl for United, with openers Mitch Whittle (2-28) and Kane Goldsworthy (2-26) taking two wickets each.
* Spring Gully tuned up for its Twenty20 grand final against United on Tuesday night with a 56-run win at home over Axe Creek.
The Cowboys grinded their way to 9-114 batting first in an innings where only Ash Dixon (26) made more than 20.
The Crows spread the load with the ball, with Shaun O'Shea (3-30), Nick Skeen (2-5) and captain Alex Sutton (2-12) combining for seven wickets.
The Cowboys put the Crows under pressure early in their chase when Jakk Trenfield (2-31) removed openers Lachlan Brook (3) and Sutton (3) to have Spring Gully 2-9.
However, knocks from Brannon Stanford (32) and Rhys Webb (31) steadied the innings for the Crows, who reached 8-170 before stumps were pulled in the 38th over.
As well as Dixon top-scoring for Axe Creek, he also had the Cowboys' best bowling figures of 3-26.
* Mandurang avenged its loss from earlier in the season to Marong, winning their return bout by 64 runs at Pearce Reserve.
Coach David Blume's 86 n.o. off 75 was the backbone of the Panthers' 7-195 batting first.
It was Blume's fourth half-century of the season, with his innings including an unbroken 60-run partnership with Tom Wilson (20 n.o.) for the eighth wicket.
The competition's leading wicket-taker, Beau Clements, again had an impact with the ball for the Rangas with 3-19 from eight overs.
In reply the top-of-the-ladder Rangas produced a dominant run-chase, losing just two wickets in surpassing their target before finishing at 4-259.
Linton Colclough was in devastating touch for the Rangas, with the opener blasting 71 off just 42 balls and 64 of his runs coming in fours (10) and sixes (four).
Captain Corey Dickins (78 off 70) also kept the umpire busy signaling with 13 fours and one six.
Jayden Laubsch (2-41) took two of the four wickets for the Panthers, who suffered a sixth loss in a row.
* Meanwhile, Saturday's round 12 of the Upper Loddon Cricket Association was highlighted by a Matt Giri batting blitz for Arnold.
Giri blasted the season's highest score of 144 as the Redbacks (6-250) beat Wedderburn (117) by 133 runs.
And in the other game the resurgent Boort-Yando (5-141) won its third game in a row by defeating Bridgewater (121).
The win moved Boort-Yando into the top four.
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