An Echuca South-Echuca derby will highlight the semi-final stage of this summer’s Goulburn Murray Twenty20 Cup cricket series following Thursday night’s second round action.
South might be occupying the foot of the A grade league ladder, with Echuca a rung above them, but the Swans’ surprising cup run off the back of a first-up walkover continued with a 16-run win at home against Tongala.
Although initially somewhat bullish about their chances, the yet-to-be-consistently excellent Blues’ tendency towards pressing the self-destruct button was again evident as the visitors lost their last eight batsmen for 55 runs while chasing a very gettable target of 126 for victory.
Earlier, South captain Jayden Rosin won the toss and held up the innings with 35 not out to go with Cam Laird’s 32.
Rosin then came back and delivered with the ball, taking 1/13 off four overs in a solid bowling attack led on the evening by Joe Hamilton (3/24 from 3.2) and Shannon O’Brien (2/20 off three).
Bailey Bell’s 34 in the middle order was as good as it got for Tongala.
At Girgarre, Echuca condemned Kyabram Fire Brigade to bearing the lucky losers’ ticket to face presumed current tournament favourites Cooma.
The green machine won the toss but could only compile 7/114. Everyone in the top half of the batting order got a start of sorts for Echuca with Shane Robinson’s 35 the best. Mark Watt claimed 2/20 from his four overs for Kyabram.
The Flames were then bowled out for 104 with five deliveries left in the match.
Captain Dan Kent with 32 was the standout for Kyabram with the bat but 8/61 was the damage done in reply to the required runs set by Echuca.
Skipper Simon Maddox and Brendan Moyle shared the bulk of the wickets for Echuca with two apiece.
Maddox said it had been a close contest in fading light.
‘‘It was at the edge of darkness, making it hard for batting, which seems to be a common theme with these Twenty20 games,’’ he added.
‘‘We could’ve made a few more runs but our total was competitive.’’
Maddox was also sounding very confident ahead of the semi-final, expecting to beat Souths — and then go on to the trophy.
‘‘Our aim from the start was to win the Twenty20 championship,’’ he said, despite pointing out the seemingly fickle nature of the shortest format.
‘‘You only have to have a bad two, three or five overs — and that’s a quarter of your batting or bowling — and it doesn’t take long for things to go pear-shaped.’’
And claiming some silverware would go a long way to proving any knockers wrong, according to Maddox.
‘‘I keep thinking we’re a better side than we show up on paper,’’ he said.
‘‘If you want to say we’re on the bottom or easy beats, we’ll set out to prove you wrong.’’
It was another strong batting performance from Cooma, again at home, that saw them through against Rochester Tigers.
The locals won the toss and hit up 5/167 — at more than eight runs per over for the second straight round — with Elliot Ruthven 65 not out batting at number 10 highlighting the squad’s scoring depth.
Max Craddock added 37.
The Tigers were routed for 83 — a losing margin of 84 runs — Liam Barrett being the chief destroyer with the ball for Cooma courtesy of a 3/10 four-over haul.
He was well backed up with Wil Jackson’s 3/25 and Jake Kelly’s 2/10.