HUNTLY-NORTH Epsom pulled off a huge upset in the Bendigo District Cricket Association on Saturday with a shock 27-run win over Strathdale-Maristians.
Going into Saturday's round 13 match at Strauch Reserve the Power were on the bottom of the ladder having won just one game, while the Suns were on top having lost only one game.
Separated by 57 points on the ladder pre-game, the Power - led by stand-in captain Adam Ward - defied the massive gulf to defend their score of 173.
It was a mighty turnaround for the Power after being routed for just 51 by White Hills the previous week, while it was also without the experienced trio of captain Elliott Massina, Danushka Wijemanna and Brett Elvey through suspension.
"Today is just reward for all the work we've been doing behind the scenes without getting the results," Ward said.
"We've been playing three 15-year-old kids for the whole year (Judd Gilchrist, Kyen Burrill-Grinton, Jack Wilson) and one of them (Burrill-Grinton) has played a significant role in the outcome today.
"Everyone on the outside probably thinks today is a major surprise, but on the inside we have the belief that we can mix it with the best.
Everyone on the outside probably thinks today is a major surprise, but on the inside we have the belief that we can mix it with the best- Adam Ward
"Strathdale is a side we seem to match up reasonably well against, even with the inexperience we had today. And they are a side that blokes tend to get up for to play against... I turned up at the ground today really excited for the challenge.
"Having youth in your side is a wonderful thing... it really can create some magic and when it goes right for you it's unbelievable to watch the kids."
Batting first, the catalysts for what became the Power's winning score of 173 was opener Ryan Grundy and No.3 Pat De Mel.
Starting their partnership at 1-38, Grundy (68) and De Mel (54) added 110 for the second wicket in the defining stand of the game.
Grundy's 68 was his sixth half-century of the season from 12 innings, giving him 440 runs, with Saturday his fourth dismissal in the 60s.
Once the partnership was broken when Grundy was caught and bowled by James Barri with the score on 148, the Power wickets then tumbled as they lost 9-25 to be bowled out in the 44th over.
Spinners Barri (4-28) and captain Cameron Taylor (3-38) combined for seven scalps for the Suns, whose flurry of 9-25 included the last five Power wickets falling for just eight runs.
Crucially with the ball the Power was able to make early inroads into the much-vaunted Suns' batting line-up and once the home side had the flag favourites under pressure never let-up.
Inside 19 overs the Power had removed Matt Wilkinson (3), Grant Waldron (3), Jack Neylon (11), Taylor (17) and James Vlaeminck (3) to have the Suns on the ropes at 5-56.
That later became 7-98 in the 35th over as former skippers Linton Jacobs and Ben DeAraugo set about digging the Suns out of the mire.
Renowned as a side capable of winning from any position - they've done it countless times during their dynasty of dominance - this task though would prove to be one beyond the Suns.
DeAraugo (46) and Jacobs (16 n.o.) added 40 for the eighth wicket that pushed the score to 138, but the Power struck a key blow when Iraan Indika had DeAraugo caught at deep mid-wicket by sub fielder Archer Billings.
And soon after the Power were celebrating the boilover when Ward finished off the Suns' innings for 146 when he bowled Jack Pysing (2).
Left-arm spinner Indika, who opened the bowling, continued his solid recent form with 4-31 off nine overs, while Burrill-Grinton (2-13) and Ward (2-30) each took two wickets.
Teenage leg-spinner Burrill-Grinton bowled with tremendous control, with his nine overs not only including the wickets of Taylor and Barri (16), but he only conceded 13 runs.
"Probably one of the areas we've let ourselves down in this year is we've gone against what has worked so well for us in the past and that is being dry and boring with the ball," Ward said.
"This year we've probably tried to do too much in terms of trying to chase a wicket, whereas today we just went back to being boring and forcing them to come to us rather than us going at them to create a chance."
For the Suns - who had the competition's leading run-scorer in opener Daniel Clohesy (back spasms) a late withdrawal - it was just their second loss in their past 43 games.
"It just didn't click for us today... Huntly batted better than us in the conditions and they bowled better in the conditions," Suns' skipper Taylor said.
It just didn't click for us today... Huntly batted better than us in the conditions and they bowled better in the conditions- Cameron Taylor
"We closed out well with the ball and were pleased to keep them to what looked to be a gettable total... it could have been a lot worse if we didn't bowl well at the end.
"But overall, we probably only nailed a 15-over period for the day rather than winning the bulk of it and getting ourselves on top.
"Today is certainly a reminder that you need to be on for any team you come up against in this competition."
Sandhurst broke its six-game losing streak and in doing so put a massive dagger into the finals chances of Kangaroo Flat at Weeroona Oval.
The Dragons won for the first time since December 18 with their three-wicket victory over the Roos.
Chasing Kangaroo Flat's 7-189, the Dragons responded with 7-191 to win with eight balls to spare.
"It has been a long time coming today... we've had a couple of bad losses and a couple of close losses over these past few games and it felt a bit like we'd forgotten how to win," Sandhurst captain Joel Murphy said.
"So it was good to get a win against a dangerous side like Kangaroo Flat that has a lot of match-winners in it."
The Sandhurst win was highlighted by Ben Yarwood's first A grade five-for as he bagged 5-32 off nine overs, with his scalps including four of the Roos' top five batsmen.
Yarwood's five wickets included three catches by wicket-keeper Ash Gray, who took a pair of sharp one-handed diving chances low to the ground.
"It was great for Ben; he came on and found the edge and did really well. He's one of the hardest trainers at the club and it's good to see him get the rewards for his work," Murphy said.
Bowling first change, Yarwood had an immediate impact when he needed just two balls to take his first wicket with the dismissal of Roos' opener Dylan Achison (8).
The Roos at one stage fell from 1-51 in the 15th over to 4-57 in the 17th, with Yarwood taking the three wickets in quick succession.
The standout knock of the Kangaroo Flat innings was No.6 Dylan Klemm's 71 n.o off 96 balls after he came in following the loss of the three quick wickets.
Klemm's innings included a steadying 63-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Brent Hamblin (19).
In reply the Dragons' run chase got off to a strong start through openers Murphy (34) and Gray, who put on 73 for the first wicket.
Gray was in ominous touch early with his first four scoring shots including a pair of boundaries and a six on his way to a season-high score of 53 off 43.
As well as the strong start from Gray and Murphy, No.3 Ben Leed chipped in with 32 for the Dragons to help put the side in a position to successfully chase their target.
The Roos - who were missing Adam Burns and Kenny Beith from their attack - had Dylan Klemm (3-46) and Hamblin (2-33) as their only multiple wicket-takers in a costly loss that now leaves them two games outside the top four with only three rounds remaining.
The return of gun all-rounder Russell Stockdale had an immediate impact for Eaglehawk as it ended its three-game losing streak.
Stockdale plundered his second century of the season in the Hawks' 26-run win over Strathfieldsaye at Canterbury Park.
The aggressive opener cracked 103 off 88 balls in the Hawks' tally of 7-231 batting first after Jets' captain Ben Devanny lost the toss for the ninth game in a row.
Stockdale - who also made a century against Huntly-North Epsom in round nine - belted nine fours and four sixes during an innings that lasted into the 31st over.
Nash Viney (31 n.o.), veteran Jeremy Brown (30), Angus Chisholm (24) and Ben Williams (21) also ticked the runs over for the Hawks.
Spinner Darcy Hunter's 3-48 for the Jets included the wicket of Stockdale, who was caught by Chathura Damith at mid-on.
The Jets were on the back foot early in their chase when Eaglehawk captain Nick Farley (4-38) struck two quick blows, dismissing dangerman Tim Wood (2) and Cal McCarty (1) in the fifth over to have the visitors 2-8.
However, Devanny (84) and opener Abe Sheahan (55) dug in for the Jets with a 130-run partnership that batted Strathfieldsaye back into the contest.
But once Sheahan was caught on the boundary by Josh Williams off Ben Williams (2-28) the wickets fell regularly for the remainder of the innings as the Jets lost 8-67 to be all out in the final over for 205.
Skipper Devanny's 84 off 97 balls in what was by far his best innings of the season featured eight boundaries and one six.
Stockdale followed up his century with 2-38 with his leg spin as the Hawks jumped a rung from sixth to fifth, while the Jets slipped from second to third.
Bendigo maintained its position in the top four with a four-wicket win over White Hills at Scott Street in a game where the runs didn't come easy and only one player made more than 30.
The Demons compiled 9-135 off their 45 overs batting first after one stage looking like they'd struggle to bat out their full quota having been 7-99 in the 36th.
Bendigo skipper Nathan Fitzpatrick snared 4-37 for the Goers, while the Demons had Ollie Geary (26), Gavin Bowles (22), Rhys Irwin (21) and Jayden Sheean (20) all dismissed in the 20s.
No doubt there would have been a sigh of relief when the Goers had White Hills captain Mitch Winter-Irving caught by Matt Gray low to the ground at mid-on for a duck.
Winter-Irving has regularly feasted on the Goers bowlers in the past, but his innings on Saturday only lasted two balls.
Bendigo's run-chase got off to a shaky start when opener Xavier Ryan (0) was trapped lbw by Irwin (1-23) second ball of the innings.
However, the Goers were able to get enough contributions through their innings, led by Dylan Johnstone's game-high score of 41, to reach 6-140 and win with 15 balls to spare.
The win was sealed in fine style for the Goers when Declan Slingo (21 n.o.) launched Winter-Irving (1-31) for a six.
Bendigo United has climbed its way back into second position after defeating Golden Square by 17 runs at Wade Street.
Redbacks' captain Clayton Holmes' sparkling season with the bat continued as he crunched 76 off 86 to pass 50 for the fifth time in his side's 8-206 batting first.
All of the Redbacks' top seven batsmen got a start, while Golden Square had four bowlers - Scott Trollope (2-44), Callum Tibbett (2-30), captain Liam Smith (2-39) and Connor Miller (2-31) - take two wickets each.
The Bulldogs were all out for 189 in reply having one stage been well placed at 2-116 in the 30th over.
Skipper Smith's 59 off 75 was the top score for the Bulldogs, while spin brothers - Will Thrum (3-29) and Jake Thrum (2-47) - combined for five wickets for the Redbacks.
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