THE fourth and penultimate round of the Gippsland Cricket League saw Traralgon return to finals calculations with a win over rivals Central Gippsland.
Bairnsdale continued its undefeated run to book a finals spot while Sale-Maffra broke through for its first win of the campaign against Leongatha.
Traralgon 8/234 def Central Gippsland 220
TRARALGON skipper Michael Warne won the toss at the Maryvale Reserve and had no hesitation in batting first.
A 75-run opening stand between Sam Marks (14) and an aggressive Greg Munro (73) set the platform for a competitive total.
Jordan Gilmore (79) contributed another fine innings to help Traralgon finish at 8/234.
Will Cheatley and Callum Buckley picked up two wickers each for Central Gippsland.
The reply began poorly when Justin Vajler was lbw to Todd Mann for a duck, before Anthony Bloomfield (15) and Mark Cukier (25) put on 32 for the second wicket.
Rhys Holdsworth (56) and Shane Peters (51) posted half-centuries to resurrect the innings in the middle order, but the chase was derailed when the latter was run out with the score on 194.
Callum Buckley (19) and Fraser Smith (26) took Central Gippsland close, but the side was eventually dismissed 14 runs short in the 48th over.
The win put Traralgon back into contention for a finals berth.
Bairnsdale 152 def Warragul 130
LADDER leader Bairnsdale was in strife batting first at 5/52 against an accurate Warragul attack.
However, Scott Davidson (51) and Dion Holden (54) came to the rescue before the home team was eventually dismissed for 152 off 45.1 overs.
In reply Warragul found the going tough and struggled to get on top of some excellent bowling and fielding.
The visitor collapsed to be 8/70 and only some courageous batting from Fraser Duncan (37) and Bryce Monahan (23 not out) added some respectability.
Warragul was dismissed for 130 off 39.1 overs with Johnny Lash (4/18) and Devon Costigan (3/32) starring with the ball for Bairnsdale.
The win guaranteed the undefeated Bairnsdale a spot in the 2014-15 GCL final while Warragul slipped down to third on the ladder.
Sale Maffra 4/118 def Leongatha 117
LEONGATHA elected to bat first against Sale Maffra at Stephenson Park, Sale.
The visitor was unable to establish any substantial partnerships and was all out for 117 off 46.1 overs.
Only Kit Rothier (22) and Jason Wilson (20) were able to make an impression on the scoreboard.
Brad Scott, Joshua Davis, Dylan Bolton and Rohan Diamond claimed two wickets each for Sale Maffra in a balanced bowling effort.
The home team had a shaky start with the bat and fell to 4/46 in reply.
An unbeaten 72 run partnership between the talented Ben Saxon (41 not out) and Rohan Diamond (34 not out) guided Sale Maffra to its first win this year by six wickets.
Zac Price and Shane Dole claimed two wickets each for Leongatha.
The final round of GCL will be played on Sunday, 18 January, with the grand final slated for 1 February.
Ladder after Round 4
1. Bairnsdale 24
2. Traralgon 18
3. Warragul 12
4. Leongatha 6
5. Sale Maffra 6
6. Central Gippsland 6
Round 5 Fixture
Traralgon v Bairnsdale
(Traralgon Rcereation Reserve)
Leongatha v Central Gippsland
Warragul v Sale Maffra
(Western Park Warragul)