WITH just three rounds remaining in MPCA Provincial cricket before finals, the intensity of round nine has seen some serious game changers after the first day’s play.
There is still a mad scramble for a place in the top four with at least seven teams vying for third and fourth.
At this stage, despite two more rounds to follow round nine, it seems top of the table Peninsula Old Boys and second-placed Crib Point have done enough to play finals.
With seven teams staking claims for third and fourth place, every run and every wicket is critical.
It also means that there is no easy ride to get into the finals.
Only Sorrento get an easy game on the way home, playing Rye in the final round. However, they have drawn the short straw because they only get them in a one-day match, which makes life really difficult to achieve an outright win for maximum points.
Sorrento were in all sorts of trouble after they batted against Pines on Saturday, making just 116.
Other than Bobby Wilson with 38, the Sorras struggled. Craig Entwhistle was superb for the Piners with 5/41 and Pat Jackson claimed 3/27.
However, the crafty Anthony Blackwell turned the tables on the visitors and had them on 4/39 at stumps. Blackwell himself had 4/16.
It seems there’s plenty more cricket in this one.
Mornington didn’t fare much better than the Sorras, bowled out for 107 against Crib Point.
Glenn Barclay was at his very best yet again for the Pies with 5/40, while Matty Blake chimed in with 3/22 from his 12 overs.
The visitors are 0/11 in reply.
Somerville is in the box seat against Moorooduc.
The Eagles won the toss on Saturday and sent the visitors into bat. Ben Williams top scored for the Ducs with 29 while Mathew Lonsdale got his opportunity in the First IX and succeeded with 21. Michael Whincup made a cameo at the end with 21, to get the Ducs to 133.
Matty Roach was superb with the pill once again for the Eagles, snaring 5/23 from 18 overs, while Jack Kennedy claimed 2/35.
In reply, Somerville is cruising after five overs at 0/25.
Langwarrin has given Peninsula Old Boys some work to do, setting them 267 for victory.
The Kangas batted the best it has all season, thanks largely to new kid on the block, Joel Bateman, who is in scintillating form. He scored his highest First IX score on Saturday of 74, while cousin and assistant coach Jake Prosser scored 61 and the evergreen Simon McEvoy opened with 40.
Jonny Forest was the pick of the Old Boys’ bowlers with 5/85.
Baxter and Long Island have had many great battles over the journey and this round is no different.
Baxter batted first on Saturday. Thanks largely to Chris Brittain, with a superb 122, they were able to score 217. Joe Rule also opened with 34.
Greg Lamb wound back the clock and picked up 4/31 from 14 overs. Daniel Warwick (11) Ben Matters (duck) and Ben Brittain (duck) were all run out.
Mount Eliza will be looking for an outright win against Rye after scoring 9/249 on Saturday.
Despite the fact they have no chance of playing finals, the Mounties would no doubt like to finish higher than second last.
Justin Grant scored 88 for the Mounties on Saturday while Keith Briggs hit 73.
Rye 16-year-old Billy Swayne was the best of the bowlers with 4/25 from four overs.