OCEAN Grove kept their finals chances alive with a ground-breaking four-wicket victory over neighbouring rivals and BPCA A-Grade finals contenders Barwon Heads on Saturday.
The Grubbers’ pursuit for finals again goes on the line against fellow finals aspirants Portarlington this Saturday in their two-day A-Grade clash at Ocean Grove Memorial Recreation Reserve.
A win against the Demons in their final and away fixture this season, means Ocean Grove would secure a top-four finals berth, while a loss would spell an end to their finals hopes at the expense of fifth-placed Portarlington.
On Saturday, the Grubbers, who jumped into fourth position, secured valuable ‘battle of the bridge’ bragging rights defeating Barwon Heads on their home turf.
The Grubbers set up the win on day one after bowling out Barwon Heads for only 144.
Resuming at 3/76, the Grubbers were only chasing a further 69 runs for victory, but lost the wickets of Corey Bampfield (9) and Corey Buxton (0) early on day two to allow Barwon Heads back into the game.
Then star Grubber batsman Michael Kenneady (75) and teammate Dan Roddis (17) shared in a vital 48-run sixth-wicket partnership to snuff out any hopes of an unlikely victory from the home side.
Kenneady, the second highest A-Grade run scorer this season with 481 runs at an average 60.13, played a key role ensuring his side’s win according to Ocean Grove coach Lucas Cameron.
“Mick (Kenneady) wasn’t as fluent as usual, but he took ownership of ensuring we won the game and kept our season alive,” Cameron said.
Ocean Grove passed the home side’s first innings total of 144 with four wickets to spare and eventually finished at 8/177 from 58.4 overs.
Cameron said it was a significant win to defeat the previous A-Grade ladder leaders on their home soil.
Ocean Grove spin king, Mick Gill, delivered the knockout punch on day one with his figures of 4/57 from 18 overs and claimed the vital scalp of star Barwon Heads all-rounder Craig Biddiscombe (40).
“Really pleasing to knock off the top side with a really sound performance, set up last (on day one) with the ball,” Cameron said.
Cameron confirmed the Grubbers’ destiny had been in their own hands for several weeks now, including the pending match-up against Portarlington on Saturday.
“We head into a big week for the club playing with the extra incentive that if we win, we get another chance to play finals cricket, lose and we are watching,” Cameron said.
He said a lot hinged on Portarlington’s performance with the bat and their proven ability to compile big scores.
“We will be focusing on their (Portarlington) batting strengths, they seem to cough up big scores, but are more than capable of chasing down large totals,” Cameron said.
The Wallabies compiled 7/187 in response to Ocean Grove 2’s innings of 8/179 from their 40 overs.
After bowling Ocean Grove 1 out for 80, Barwon Heads won with seven wickets to spare and finished at 3/89 from their 17 overs.
On day one, Barwon Heads made 9/222 from their 60 overs.
Grubber all-rounder Darren Craig was a standout with both bat and ball with his figures of 4/81 from 29 overs and an unbeaten 71 not out.
Ocean Grove finished at 3/227 from 57 overs.
Hodgson smashed 110 on day two for the home side as the Grubbers were all bowled out for 288, in response to Barwon Heads’ imposing total of 333 on day one.
Hodgson and Peter Hart (72) shared in a 132-run fifth wicket partnership stand.
Brock Close had a day out for Barwon Heads with the ball on the second day claiming 6/68 from 23.5 overs.