GOLDEN Square has climbed its way into the Bendigo District Cricket Association top four after two results went the Bulldogs' way in Saturday's round 11.
Firstly, the Bulldogs - who had started the day in sixth position - took care of business at their end by beating Bendigo by three wickets with one ball to spare in a thriller at Wade Street.
And secondly, Eaglehawk, which had been sitting in fourth position, lost by 108 runs to Kangaroo Flat at Canterbury Park.
On the back of those two results Golden Square leaped above both Bendigo and Eaglehawk into fourth spot as the Bulldogs continue their resurgence following the wooden spoon last season.
After winning just three games last season, the Bulldogs are now 6-5, including winning four of their five games since the resumption from the Christmas-New Year break.
"Winning isn't easy, so when you get your opportunity you've got to take it and we're starting to really do that now and appreciate winning," Golden Square captain Liam Smith said.
"It was a really important game today. We didn't really focus on the ladder side of it, we just spoke about continuing to do the things we have been doing well.
"Our bowlers have been setting us up and our batsmen have been chasing well and we feel that we're in some good form... we just need to keep winning."
It was a really important game today. We didn't really focus on the ladder side of it, we just spoke about continuing to do the things we have been doing well- Liam Smith
In reply to Bendigo's 171, Golden Square took until the second last ball of its chase to reach 7-172, with the winning runs scored by Connor Miller (3 n.o.).
The Golden Square-Bendigo game was one of two thrillers decided on the second-last ball on Saturday.
At Harry Trott Oval Strathfieldsaye (9-202) beat Bendigo United (7-201) by one wicket with one ball to spare in a pivotal result that moves the Jets nine points clear of the Redbacks in second position.
At Weeroona Oval, Huntly-North Epsom (6-200) broke through for its first win of the season at the expense of Sandhurst (9-192) by eight runs.
Kangaroo Flat (7-214) gave Eaglehawk (106) a hiding and Strathdale-Maristians (9-212) beat White Hills (159) by 53 runs at Scott Street.
For the second time this season Connor Miller has hit the winning runs in a last-over clutch situation for Golden Square, this time against Bendigo in a thrilling Bendigo District Cricket Association match at Wade Street on Saturday.
In a crunch clash for both sides that each went in on 30 points and a game outside the top four, it was the home side Bulldogs who emerged victorious by three wickets with one ball left to spare.
Chasing Bendigo's 171, Miller hit the winning runs off the fifth ball of the final over bowled by Goers' captain Nathan Fitzpatrick (1-29), with a scampered single taking the Bulldogs to 7-172 and right in the thick of the finals hunt with five rounds to play as they moved into fourth.
Earlier this season Miller hit the winning runs for Golden Square off the final ball against Huntly-North Epsom in round one, while the previous Sunday he had also played a crucial knock under pressure as the Dogs battled to get over the Power.
It was Miller (3 n.o.) and former Bendigo player Kayle Thompson (10 n.o.) who were at the crease when the game was won, with Fitzpatrick's final over having started with Golden Square 7-166 and needing six to win or five to tie.
Thompson scored a pair of twos off the first two deliveries, then a single to level the scores, before Fitzpatrick's next delivery was a dot ball to Miller.
However, Miller was able to score off the next ball with a bottom edge that bounced and landed in the hands of Bendigo wicket-keeper Xavier Ryan to deliver the Bulldogs a win that improved their record to 6-5.
While it was Miller and Thompson who put the finishing touches on the run-chase, the two earlier key partnerships of the innings were the 49 put on by captain Liam Smith (38) and veteran Scott Johnson (28) for the third wicket, and the 52 Johnson and top-scorer Scott Trollope (51) added for the fourth.
Bailey Goodwin's impressive form with the ball continued for the Goers, with his 3-34 including the dismissals of Golden Square openers Jake Higgins (6) and Riley Hocking (9), while he now has 14 wickets in his past four games.
Earlier after winning the toss and batting the Goers had one stage been 2-107 in the 23rd over before losing 8-64 - the last four of those wickets for just six runs - to be all out for 171 in the 42nd.
Callum Tibbett (3-28), Trollope (2-31) and spinner Smith (2-45) shared seven wickets between them for Golden Square.
In what was the second time in three games the Goers had collapsed from a strong position, Kyle Humphrys top-scored with 38.
In another game decided on the second-last ball of the match, Strathfieldsaye has taken a stranglehold on second position after beating Bendigo United in a cracking contest at Harry Trott Oval.
Chasing the Redbacks' 7-201, the Jets reached their target with one ball and one wicket to spare
Similar to Square's Miller, it was Jed Rodda who again delivered under pressure for the second time this season.
With the Jets trailing by one run and two balls left, Rodda was able to hit an Ashley Younghusband (1-26) delivery for two through mid-wicket - the second run coming via an overthrow - to clinch a pivotal victory that moves Strathfieldsaye nine points clear of the Redbacks in second position, which again carries the added bonus this season of a double chance come finals.
Two months earlier in round five Rodda scored two runs off the final delivery to win against Huntly-North Epsom as the Jets scraped home in another thriller.
The Jets - who lost the toss for the seventh game in a row - reaching 9-202 to win the game came after they had been 9-192 when No.11 Rodda (5 n.o.) joined Darcy Hunter (6 n.o.) at the crease.
The standout knock of the Jets' chase was opener Tim Wood's 92, which Strathfieldsaye desperately needed after the early losses of Abe Sheahan (3) and Cal McCarty (1) had the visitors a precarious 2-8.
Wood's 92 came off 113 balls with four fours and three sixes and included a 103-run partnership for the fourth wicket with recruit Campbell Love (33).
Left-arm spinner Jake Thrum's 4-52 were the best bowling figures for Bendigo United, which earlier in the day had both Harry Donegan (55) and Riley Treloar (53) make half-centuries in their 7-201.
It was both Donegan and Treloar's third half-centuries of the season, with the pair combining for nine boundaries and three sixes.
As well as hitting the winning runs, Rodda's day for the Jets also included the big scalp of Bendigo United captain Clayton Holmes (14) as part of his 2-30 with the ball, while Love (2-33) also picked up two wickets as the Jets avenged their round two loss to the Redbacks.
It has taken 11 rounds, but after what has been a frustrating season of near-misses - albeit one in which the club has blooded a host of young talent - Huntly-North Epsom finally has its first win on the board.
The Power broke through for its first victory in another tight game, beating Sandhurst by eight runs at Weeroona Oval.
Batting first an 86-run opening stand between Ryan Grundy (65) and Adam Ward (52) paved the way for the Power to compile 6-200.
Grundy's 65 was his fifth half-century of the season and took his tally of runs to 368,with the Dragons needing 16 overs to break the opening partnership.
Captain Elliott Massina later helped keep the Power runs ticking over with an unbeaten 32, while it was the duo of Nathan Walsh (3-26) and Ben Evans (3-44) who combined to take all six Sandhurst wickets.
The Dragons batted their 45 overs out in reply, but fell short when held to 9-192 to now be 0-5 since the season resumed.
Captain Joel Murphy (48), coach Dylan Gibson (43) and Jasper Langley (38) were the chief run-scorers for the Dragons.
Left-arm spinner Iraan Indika was the Power's standout with the ball, following up his 3-9 against Golden Square last Sunday with 4-36 from his nine overs.
The Jekkyl and Hyde form of Kangaroo Flat continued, with the Roos giving a reminder of the damage they are still capable of with a convincing win over Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park.
In a vital result that keeps their finals pulse just flickering - they are 12 points outside the top four - the Roos won by 108 runs.
Jake Klemm (60), Dylan Klemm (43) and Brent Hamblin (39) - now both Kangaroo Flat's leading run-scorer and wicket-taker this season - combined for 142 of the Roos' 7-214 batting first after winning the toss.
The Klemm brothers added 74 for the fourth wicket as they took the Roos from 3-53 in the 10th over the 127 in the 27th before the partnership was ended by Aaron Monro (2-43).
Among the highlights for the Hawks was Tain Piercy (1-40) on debut claiming his first A grade wicket when he had Jake Klemn caught by Anthony West.
The Hawks' run-chase got off to a sound start with a 37-run opening partnership between Anthony West (50) and Ben Williams (10).
But once Williams was dismissed by Dylan Klemm in the eighth over it signaled the beginning of the end for the Hawks.
Just 25 overs later the Hawks had been skittled for 106 after losing 9-69 to lose their position in the top four, with it taken by Golden Square.
Dylan Klemm (3-24), Kenny Beith (3-15) and the recalled Cameron Salmon (3-22) all took three wickets apiece for the Roos, who just as Bendigo, Strathfieldsaye and Huntly-North Epsom did, also beat a side they had lost to in round two.
Flag favourite Strathdale-Maristians retained its one game buffer at the top of the ladder with a 53-run win over White Hills at Scott Street.
Jack Neylon (71) and captain Cameron Taylor (59), who moved back up the order to open the batting, both notched half-centuries, with Neylon's 71 coming off just 59 balls and laced with six boundaries and four sixes.
Nick Wallace (4-49) and captain Mitch Winter-Irving (2-20) were both multiple wicket-takers for the Demons, with Winter-Irving's scalps including the competition's leading run-scorer, Daniel Clohesy, who was caught by Xavier Dunham for four.
The Suns' Taylor backed up his 59 with the bat by taking 4-26 off eight overs with the ball and also hitting the 30-wicket mark for the season as the Demons were all out for 159 in reply.
The Demons had been 1-90 in the 24th over, but lost 9-69 to be bowled out in the 42nd.
Opener Rhys Irwin battled hard at the top of the order to make 54 off 72, with his innings including a 66-run stand for the second wicket with Winter-Irving (25).
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