Tense end touted for Tigers

The opening hour will be vital when Morwell and Mirboo North resume hostilities in their Central Gippsland Cricket Association two-day match on Saturday.

In a round marred by uneven contests, the two Tigers teams demonstrated why they were among the first grade competition’s most fancied sides.

Batting first, the reigning premiers put on 191 in 61.1 overs.

The Morwell bowlers, led by Travis Pickering (3/35 off 11.3 overs) and Brendan Brincat (2/41 off 18 overs) dismissed the top order cheaply but encountered a road block in Robert Phoenix (58) and William Cheatley (52).

The pair put on a 105-run stand for the fifth wicket before Pickering had Cheatley out caught by Lachlan Day with captain Rory Hare bowling Phoenix soon after.

From there the Morwell bowlers scythed through the lower order with the last five bats, adding 11 between them.

Morwell’s batsmen then faced 20 overs and survived the test, losing just one wicket (Craig Giddens for one) to reach 1/45 at stumps.

Kris Fortuin (24 not out) and Hare (18 not out) are at the crease and with plenty of batting to come much will be decided in the opening hour of play.

The downside for Morwell is it is without the bat of Mark Cukier, who has been in top form this season with two fifties at an average of 69.

This match has all the makings of a grand final preview and it is likely to yield a close contest.

In Mirboo North’s favour is an attack more than capable of getting the job done with spinner Dale Banks, who was dislodged from the top of the league wicket takers list on Saturday, providing an edge.

It can also count on the psychological edge of knowing it already has runs on the board.

But the momentum will shift in Morwell’s favour if there are no early wickets.

If it can bat late into the day it should be able to deliver Mirboo North’s first loss of the season.

Moe v Jeeralang Boolarra

Moe will need to do something spectacular to salvage anything from its match against Jeeralang Boolarra after being reduced to 5/22 upon its return to Ted Summerton Reserve.

It was a tough day for the Lions after captain Andrew Philip’s decision to put his opponents in after winning the toss backfired, with the Panthers racking up 245 runs in 74 overs.

Jeeralang Boolarra took hold of the match from the outset, with the top four of Luke Heath (32), Ossy Brennan (21), Ben Heath (39) and Stanley Urbanic Junior (57 not out) putting on 149 between them.

Despite Moe fighting back to remove the middle cheaply, Ben McCormack’s lower order 46 meant Jeeralang Boolarra was able to set an imposing total.

The Lions then went in to bat and managed to lose five wickets in the final eight overs of play, including four ducks.

Moe’s tail should put up some resistance and despite collapsing in the first innings it is hard to see the Lions conceding an outright loss.

With Morwell, Mirboo North and Latrobe seemingly unassailable in the top three spots, this game offered both teams a chance to show why they are contenders for a finals berth.

But a strong day one performance by the Panthers means the merry-go-round at the lower half of the table will continue.

Yallourn North v Latrobe

LATROBE will be eyeing a quick finish and maximum points when play resumes in its two-day match against Yallourn North on Saturday.

The Sharks need just five wickets to win outright at Yallourn North Recreation Reserve after a pair of collapses left the Bombers in a dire position at the end of day one.

After winning the toss and batting Yallourn North collapsed to be all out for 27 in 17 overs, without a batsman making it into double figures.

In response Latrobe posted 178 in 53.2 overs with multiple batsman getting starts despite some determined bowling from the Bombers.

With time remaining in the day’s play Yallourn North was forced to begin its second innings.

Sharks bowlers Chris Johnson and Tyron Gamage used the new ball to inflict maximum damage on their foes, reducing them to 5/18 off eight overs by the end of play – 133 short of Latrobe’s first innings total.

Johnson has already claimed 10 wickets for the match and will be hoping to add a few more scalps after shooting to the top of the league wicket-taker tally.

Given the way wickets tumbled on the first day, Latrobe will be hopeful of wrapping things up in the first hour.

Meanwhile, the Bombers are a team which has undergone a complete overhaul after losing the bulk of its squad from last season.

While they have shown fight and determination – and put in some solid efforts in the field – this match has demonstrated the importance of having experienced batsmen in the line-up.

Trafalgar has the bye.