By Colin MacGillivray
BROADFORD reclaimed top spot on the Seymour and District Cricket Association A Grade ladder by avenging its round four loss to Kilmore with an 18-run win on Saturday.
The showdown between the association’s top two sides did not disappoint, with a tight tussle playing out at Broadford’s Harley Hammond Reserve.
Visiting captain Josh Buttler elected to send Broadford in to bat after winning the toss, but a strong opening stand between Riley Mason and skipper Ash Wood had the home side off to a good start.
Mason was caught for 19 off the bowling of Brett Buttler, but Wood kept the scoreboard ticking with first-drop batsman Mitch Collier to have Broadford 1/84.
Wood’s dismissal for 52, stumped by Kilmore keeper Matt Rose off the bowling of Daniel Tassone, triggered a middle-order collapse, with four wickets falling for 13 runs.
Wood was soon joined in the sheds by Jake Martin, caught and bowled by Jayme Lowe for 10; Mitch Collier, dismissed after a brilliant diving catch by Brett Buttler off Tassone for 10; and Liam Collier, run out for one.
With Broadford suddenly 5/97, the visitors seemed to have all the momentum, but a 42-run partnership between Evan Mills and Jeremy Bradshaw steadied the ship.
Mills finished unbeaten on 48 and built a nice eighth-wicket partnership with James Jones, controlling the strike to guide the home team to 7/177 from its 45 overs.
Tassone was the pick of the Kilmore bowlers with 2-24 from seven overs.
Wood said Mills had played a pivotal role in rescuing Broadford’s innings.
“Evan came in a little bit later in the order than he has for most of the year,” he said.
“He’s a pretty strong hitter of the ball, but had to adapt his game to make sure we got to a tough little period, and then he was able to cash in at the end and put some runs on the board.”
Wood said while 177 was not ‘an astronomical score’, his side knew it was a defendable total.
In reply, Kilmore started well with a 31-run partnership between Tassone and Josh Buttler before Buttler was brought undone by Jack Connell for 14.
Tassone was caught shortly after for 17 off the bowling of Bradshaw to put Kilmore on the back foot at 2/33.
While runs kept coming for Kilmore, they did not come quickly enough. Bradshaw and spinner James Jones tightened the screws, surrendering only 23 runs apiece from their respective nine overs.
Knocks of 22 from Marcus Davern, 24 from Shane Topham and an unbeaten 38 by Matt Rose in the Kilmore middle order gave the visitors life, but as the required run rate crept above seven an over, their task became too difficult.
Kilmore finished its 45 overs at 9-159, Connell finishing as the chief Broadford wicket-taker with 3-37.
Wood said the victory would give Broadford a boost with only three rounds remaining before finals.
“It was no doubt our best win of the season so far. Kilmore have been the benchmark for the first three quarters of the year, so it was nice to get one back on them,” he said.
“It gives us a lot of confidence. I think it’s very even among the top four, and anyone on their day can beat any other side in the top four, which is a good thing.”
Elsewhere, Tallarook recorded a strong 38-run win against Seymour to stake its claim for a top-four spot.
Playing at home, Tallarook elected to bat after winning the toss and was guided to a strong score of 6/217 by a fourth-wicket partnership of 53 from Leigh Irving (66) and Luke Marshall (44).
Seymour was dismissed for 179 in reply, with Irving backing up his heroics with the bat by taking 4/19 from 8.1 overs.
Skipper Simon Van Duinen did all he could for the visitors, scoring 59 runs with eight boundaries.
Pyalong got its second win of the season with an impressive performance against struggling Alexandra, chasing down a target of 141 with six wickets in hand.
Sean Walsh (45) and Jamie Pryor (41) each shone with the bat for Pyalong, while bowlers Damien Zoch, Joseph Ryan, Jason Ryan and Connor McLeod recorded two wickets each.
Eastern Hill’s bowling attack spurred it to a surprising upset of third-placed Yea Tigers, at Yea.
Ben Bryant starred with the bat in an innings of 80 for the visitors, but it was the likes of Daniel O’Sullivan (3/39) and Matthew Collard (2/11) who were instrumental in bowling the Tigers all out for 123, giving Eastern Hill a huge 68-run victory.