JAMES Barri's first Melbourne Country Week century highlighted Bendigo's winning start to the carnival on Monday.
Bendigo defeated Wangaratta by 97 runs at Greenvale.
The winning margin looked like it would be far greater when defending its 9-283 Bendigo had Wangaratta 9-132.
However, Wangaratta's last pair of captain Paddy McNamara (27 n.o.) and No.11 Josh Ansell (34) frustrated Bendigo with a final wicket partnership of 54 to push its total to 186.
Earlier after winning the toss and batting Barri led Bendigo from a precarious 6-89 in the 24th over to what became the biggest score in Provincial Group on the opening day - 9-283.
Batting at No.7, Barri in his second MCW carnival superbly held the Bendigo innings together with an unbeaten 107 off 100 balls.
Barri struck 13 boundaries in his innings and received fine support from keeper Matt Wilkinson and Dylan Klemm, who both made 40.
Barri put on 109 for the seventh wicket with Wilkinson and 82 for the eighth with Klemm.
Klemm's 40 came off just 33 balls with two fours and two sixes.
"James Barri's innings was just exceptional today... it was chanceless," Bendigo coach Tony Ryan said.
"His cover drives were clean and crisp and he just hit the ball to where the fielders weren't.
"His ability to hit the ball wherever he wanted was second-to-none; it was a fantastic innings."
Wangaratta's Canadian off-spinner Gurjot Gosal opened the bowling and had Bendigo on the backfoot early with a superb spell of 3-6 off 10 overs, which included seven maidens.
Daniel Clohesy (24), skipper Grant Waldron (1) and Kyle Humphrys (3) were all trapped lbw to Gosal.
In reply wickets tumbled regularly throughout the Wangaratta innings.
It looked like being a particularly early finish when Bendigo had Wangaratta 9-132 in the 27th over before the last pair of McNamara and Ansell stretched the innings into the 38th over.
Vice-captain Liam Smith (4-30), fellow spinner Humphrys (3-53) and opening bowler Sam Johnston (2-18) were all multiple wicket-takers for Bendigo, which plays Mornington on Tuesday at Doncaster.
"Our bowlers were all superb today," Ryan said.
"It was a spinners wicket and Liam Smith (left-arm off-spinner) just carried on from his Sporties Spitfires form with his variance and pace.
"He bowled good line and lengths all day and had the batsmen not willing to leave their crease... he has done a bit of a number on them today."
DAY ONE RESULTS:
Ferntree Gully 198 def Leongatha 156.
Warrnambool v Geelong (unconfirmed)
Sale Maffra 0-166 def Mornington Peninsula 164
Bendigo 9-283 def Wangaratta 186.