A BRUTAL barrage of power hitting from opening batsman Ash Gray was the backbone of Sandhurst's upset win over Bendigo United in the Bendigo District Cricket Association on Saturday.
Chasing the Redbacks' 8-180 at Harry Trott Oval, the Dragons won by five wickets with just under 10 overs to spare following Gray's 62 balls of carnage.
The hard-hitting left-hander plundered 109 off just 62 balls as the Dragons answered with 5-181 to win their second game in a row after last week ending a six-game losing streak.
It was Gray's maiden first XI century in the BDCA and featured 90 of his runs coming in fours (nine) and sixes (nine).
Such was his dominance, Gray scored 109 of Sandhurst's 135 runs while he was at the crease, with his opening partner Joel Murphy (19) having the best seat in the house for the run-feast.
Gray brought his 100 up on the 54th ball he faced in what was an innings that had looked ominous from the outset after his first nine scoring shots included five fours and two sixes.
"That's as clean as I've hit the ball since I've been back in Bendigo," Gray said.
"I've been able to do it at times for periods of 30 to 50 runs and then get out, but to continue hitting them today as clean as I did throughout the innings and help us win the game was really good.
I've been able to do it at times for periods of 30 to 50 runs and then get out, but to continue hitting them today as clean as I did throughout the innings and help us win the game was really good- Sandhurst opening batsman Ash Gray
"Dylan (Gibson, coach) and Joel (Murphy, captain) had a chat with me a couple of rounds ago about taking it to the bowlers and giving me the opportunity to go up the order, which I took with both hands.
"I've tried to play the team role by getting us off to a good start, but also not just throwing my wicket away, so it has been about taking the game on and everything came off today.
"Last week I got 50-odd (53 v Kangaroo Flat) playing the same way, but today I was able to keep going."
Gray's scintillating innings came to an end in the 16th over when he was caught at long-on by Jake Thrum off spinner Will Thrum (3-27).
Earlier after winning the toss and bowling first the Dragons had four players take two wickets each - Anthony McMahon (2-31), Ben Yarwood (2-25), Kendrick Hatton (2-30) and leg-spinner Ben Evans (2-47).
Coming off five wickets against Kangaroo Flat the previous week, Yarwood picked up the first two when he dismissed both Redbacks' openers Clayton Holmes (39) and Tom Starr (13).
Skipper Holmes' 39 before he was caught at long-off by McMahon was the Redbacks' top score, while the home side also had Steve Barrett (38) and Zane Keighran (31) dismissed in the 30s.
Due to a damp patch on the pitch, all overs were bowled from the clubrooms end of the ground.
Kangaroo Flat continued its long-time domination over White Hills with a comfortable 73-run win at Dower Park.
The Roos are now 22-4 against the Demons in their 26 meetings since 2000 after they overcame a shaky start with the bat to post 165.
Sent in, the Roos were on the ropes early at 4-20 with Daniel Barber (5), Dylan Achison (1), Darcy Poulter (0) and skipper Chris Barber (2) all out, with Demons' captain Mitch Winter-Irving and Rhys Irwin combining for two wickets each.
The Roos were later 5-64 when Jake Klemm (30) was dismissed before Dylan Klemm (72) and Brent Hamblin (35) provided the steadying partnership needed with a 75-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Batting at No.6, Klemm's 72 off 128 balls followed his unbeaten 71 against Sandhurst last week.
"Dyl is going really well at the moment. We put him up to No.6 this year and he's definitely got the talent... it's just a matter of learning to bat through those middle overs and not just the tail and he has been doing that really well," Roos' skipper Barber said.
After their early breakthroughs Irwin finished with 3-29 and Winter-Irving 2-27, while spinner Linc Jacobs snared 3-31 and Liam Bartels (1-24) took his first A grade wicket for White Hills with the dismissal of Hamblin.
In reply the Demons were skittled for just 92 in an innings where only Ollie Geary (21) and Kyle Patten (12) reached double figures.
Missing gun veteran Adam Burns (COVID protocols), the Roos' bowling attack never allowed the Demons to gain any momentum in their innings, with Kenny Beith (3-13), Hamblin (2-17), Dylan Klemm (2-11) and Luke Wight (2-8) all multiple wicket-takers.
"White Hills have four or five really dangerous batsmen who can change a game, so for us to stick to our plans, trust each other and bowl in partnerships was really important," Barber said.
"There was a little bit in the wicket, but to bowl them out for 90-odd was a really good effort.
"I was really proud of everyone who bowled today... it wasn't easy in the conditions with a wet ball."
Gun Strathdale-Maristians' batsman Grant Waldron scored a century as the ladder-leading Suns returned to the winner's list with a victory over Bendigo at Bell Oval.
The Suns cracked the day's highest score of 6-241 batting first, which featured 116 from Waldron.
Waldron began his innings in the second over after the competition's leading run-scorer Daniel Clohesy had been dismissed for a golden duck when caught at mid-on by Bailey Goodwin off Declan Slingo (1-36).
Waldron's innings included a 161-run partnership for the third wicket with veteran Ben DeAraugo.
Starting their stand at 2-63 in the 18th over, they took the score to 224 before a reversal of the first wicket of the day when Waldron was caught by Slingo off Goodwin (2-55).
Waldron's classy knock of 116 was his second century against Bendigo having also made one against the Goers early last season.
He faced 138 balls and struck six fours and one six, while DeAraugo's unbeaten 79 off 69 with five fours and three sixes was his highest score of the season.
With play delayed as rain fell during the tea break, the game was reverted to the Duckworth Lewis System and a revised target for the Goers of 217 required to win off 37 overs.
The run-chase got off to a disastrous start with openers Bailey George (2) and Xavier Ryan (1) both back in the pavilion just 13 balls into the innings leaving the Goers 2-5.
Sam Johnston picked up both wickets and would finish with four as the Goers were bowled out in the 35th over for 181.
Johnson bagged 4-36, while spinners James Vlaeminck (3-27) and Cameron Taylor (2-44) took five wickets between them.
Joel Bothe's 41 was the top score for the Goers, who also had Craig Pearce (31), Dylan Johnstone (28), Kyle Humphrys (23) and Slingo (23) get starts.
Eaglehawk and Golden Square split the points three apiece after their crucial battle in the fight for fourth spot ended in a washed out draw at Canterbury Park.
The Bulldogs were well and truly in the box seat having bowled the Hawks out for for 93 and were 0-23 off eight overs in reply when rain intervened and play was unable to resume.
With the points split Eaglehawk moved from fifth to fourth - replacing Bendigo in the top four - entering Sunday's second leg of the weekend double-header, while the Bulldogs remained a game outside the four.
"I was disappointed in particular for our bowlers not to get the result today," Square captain Liam Smith said.
"They bowled really well as they have done all year and set us up to win, so it's super disappointing we didn't get the chance to chase the runs."
The Hawks were on the backfoot in their innings from the outset when X-factor Russell Stockdale - coming off a century the previous week - was bowled by Scott Trollope for a fourth-ball duck.
Eaglehawk could only muster one partnership of more than 20, with Nash Viney (12) and skipper Nick Farley (16) adding 25 for the seventh wicket after the Hawks had been 6-45.
Trollope's fine all-round season for Golden Square continued with 3-15 off nine tight overs; Callum Tibbett (2-12) and Smith (2-21) took two wickets each; while Dylan Robinson (1-11) conceded just 11 runs off his seven overs.
Strathfieldsaye won its danger game against Huntly-North Epsm by 17 runs at Tannery Lane.
Ultimately, it was a late partnership between Darcy Hunter and Savith Priyan in the Strathfieldsaye innings that proved decisive in the outcome.
Batting first after winning the toss the Jets had been in danger of being bowled out inside their 45 overs and for less than 120 when they were 8-108.
However, Hunter (28 n.o.) and Priyan (14) added a crucial 31 runs for the ninth wicket as the Jets batted out their 45 overs and finished at 9-145.
Teenager Hunter's valuable 28 n.o. was his highest first XI score, and also the top score in the Jets' innings, which was on the rocks early following the cheap dismissals of Tim Wood (1) and Cal McCarty (1).
Adam Ward's 3-29 were the best bowling figures for the Power, who after one stage being 4-115 in reply crumbled, losing 6-13 to be all out for 128 in the 38th over.
Campbell Love ripped through the Power late with 4-13 off five overs - the competition's best bowling figures for the day - while Chathura Damith's 3-22 included the key scalp of opener Ryan Grundy, trapped lbw for 9.
Power batsman Danushka Wijemanna was the only player in the game to make more than 30, compiling 44.
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