By LIAM DURKIN
LAST Saturday saw a return to the full two-divisional structure of the Latrobe Valley and District Cricket League.
The competitions 11 first grade teams will now play opponents solely in the Premier A or A Grade division for the rest of the season after playing a cross-conference system in the proceeding rounds.
Finals positions remain up for grabs in both grades with four weeks to go in the regular season, and teams will be gunning to either cement a place in the play-offs or secure a home final as soon as possible.
MORWELL blitz Latrobe at Peter Siddle Oval in Premier A.
The Tigers elected to bowl first upon winning the toss, and quickly reduced the Sharks to 2/1.
With new ball operators Brendan Brincat and Dylan Day bending the ball around corners, Latrobe was forced to shut up shop to see some time out of the game.
Sharks skipper Benn Zomer grinded out 66 deliveries and Anu Meenakshi 45, before the latter was stumped trying to release the shackles at 2/30.
From there it was absolute carnage, as Latrobe lost its next four wickets for eight runs.
At 7/38, the situation hardy got any better for the Sharks, who were shot out for just 64 in the finish.
Morwell off-break bowler Mark Cukier had a day out, with everything he touched turning to gold.
The man known as ‘Sugar’ returned sweet figures of 7/25 from 8.2 overs, helping himself to a career best haul in the process.
Cukier then went out to open the batting as Morwell chased the bonus point.
The Tigers got what they were after, chasing down the target in the 24th over, three wickets down.
Brett Wilson had some joy for Latrobe, taking 2/5.
WHO else, but John Keighran to save the day for Churchill.
The Cobras were in a spot of bother at 4/46 against CATS at George Cain Oval, before King Keighran changed things completely.
Churchill ended up posting 8/233, thanks mainly to Keighran unleashing with a brutal 97 from 95 balls.
With JK-47 in hand, Keighran shot down the CATS attack, sending five balls to the fence and five balls over it.
Keighran found a willing ally in Ijaz Ahmad, who scored an unbeaten 55 off 51 himself coming in at number eight.
The pair put on 97 for the seventh wicket, taking the score past the 200 mark.
In what should serve as a good lesson for any youngster, the pair did not recklessly try and hit every ball to be boundary, with their partnership virtually made up of singles and the occasional boundary.
Tinashe Panyangara was the top bowler for CATS, finishing with 2/34.
Panyangara did his best to replicate the efforts of Keighran, making 36 off 25 balls against the new ball.
His dismissal however triggered a collapse that saw the CATS middle order combine for just 11 runs between batsman four to eight.
No.10 Derek Hepburn spent some time in the middle, making 31 not out in what was about the only positive to take out of the innings.
Churchill scored yet another bonus point, bowling CATS out for 117.
Wickets were shared among Keighran (3/11), Rick Velardi (2/13), Steve Warr (2/16) and Ahmad (2/24).
RAIDERS secured a bonus point against Mirboo North.
The Tigers batted first at home, but could only manage 101, with Iezaz Ul Hassan top scoring on 33.
Mick Higgins nabbed 4/16 with his off-breaks for Raiders, while Harry McColl continued his wicket-taking spree, claiming 4/26 to increase his season tally to 24. Raiders captain Liam Maynard also grabbed 2/16,
Higgins then made sure of the result, scoring 60 not out in less than an hour.
Hudson Kerr was the best of the Mirboo North bowlers with 3/29.
CENTRALS walked all over Jeeralang-Boolarra in A Grade.
The Panthers batted first after winning the toss at McGregor Reserve, Yallourn North, but quickly found themselves bowling after being skittled for 54 before the second drinks break.
Corey Pollard gave nothing away during his spell of 4/8 from 7.4 overs, while Reghard Hefer and Marc Fenech did the work up top claiming 3/23 and 2/14.
The Lions went after the bonus point, and got it within 25 overs despite a nervy start.
Wayne Henry batted through the innings to finish 29 not out.
TRAFALGAR stabilised its season with a much-needed win.
With its last few weeks reading loss, draw, loss, the Ships got home against Traralgon West in a high scoring match at Burrage Reserve, Newborough.
Stand-in captain Aydan Connolly survived a few strangling attempts by Trafalgar players for electing to bat first on a greasy surface under misty skies, but the decision appeared a masterstroke a few hours later as the Ships closed at 7/203.
Aiden George and Liam White combined for a 129-run opening stand, with the former scoring 84 and the latter an unbeaten 64.
Leg spinner Adam Thow took 2/48 and Hayden Kimpton 2/49 for Traralgon West.
The Eagles played with absolutely no fear when they went into bat, as openers Brenton Howe and Kimpton looked to set a positive tone early.
This high-risk-high-reward approach presented Trafalgar with ample opportunities, and the Ships were able to capitalise during the middle stages.
At 1/77, Traralgon West quickly sank to 5/86, before back-to-back wickets on the eve of the second drinks break left the score 7/116.
Reece Falla and Luke Phillips took the chase deep, and provided a few nervy moments as they got to 7/175, but Trafalgar was able to get the percentages in their favour by protecting the boundary and the back end of the over to ensure the run rate eventually became the main point of concern for the Eagles.
Falla scored 30 and Howe 42 at the top of the order.
George rounded out a good day with 2/19 and Connolly 2/32.
MOE had the bye.