By Colin MacGillivray
SEYMOUR District Cricket Association’s four A Grade finalists will enter Saturday’s semi-finals in excellent form after each recorded wins at the weekend.
Broadford sewed up the minor premiership with a big home win against Alexandra, Kilmore cruised to victory against Seymour to finish second, third-placed Tallarook easily accounted for Eastern Hill and Yea Tigers downed Pyalong to claim fourth.
Broadford’s 6/207 to 85 win against Alexandra delivered the club its first A Grade minor premiership since the 2017-18 season.
After winning the toss and batting, the home side seized the initiative with a strong opening partnership between Riley Mason and skipper Ash Wood.
Mason survived a tough early period to patiently build an innings of 44, batting first with Wood and then with first drop Mitch Collier (36) after Wood was bowled by Alexandra’s Will Ellis, also for 44.
Evan Mills pushed the run rate up in the middle order by blasting an unbeaten 51 from 37 balls, bringing Broadford’s total above 200 from 45 overs.
With a large score to bowl at, Broadford’s attack kept the pressure on Alexandra.
Taylor Shell had one of his best outings of the season with figures of 3/2 from six overs, while fellow opening bowler Jack Connell kept Alexandra’s run rate down from the other end.
With the pressure growing on the visitors, Broadford spinners Braden Hickey (4/20) and James Jones (1/12) ripped through the Alexandra tail to finish the match inside the 37th over.
“It was a good tune up [for finals]. We played reasonably well, did what we went out there to do and got the result,” Wood said.
“We’re playing some good cricket, but the other three sides in the top four are also playing well and all had wins on the weekend, so I think it’s going to be a really close finals series.
“We’re looking forward to taking on Yea and it should be a good game of cricket on Saturday.”
Tallarook was equally clinical in its eight-wicket win against Eastern Hill at the weekend.
Blake Coyle starred with the ball after Eastern Hill elected to bat, removing most of the top order as he claimed 4/11 from nine overs.
Coby Schulz (2/27), Kalon Winnell (2/15) and Mitch Itter (1/11) were also among the wickets, while Leigh Irving bowled well for no reward in his nine overs.
Jake Sutherland (15), Brayden Speechley (13) and Matthew Collard (10) were the lone Eastern Hill batsmen to reach double figures in an innings of 79.
Tallarook reached its target in just over 20 overs, with opening batsman Cameron Muir’s dismissal, caught and bowled for a duck by Ben Bryant, one of the only stumbles.
Matthew Martin fell for 29, leaving Lachie Watts (29) and Irving (9) to make the winning runs for Tallarook.
An innings of 74 by opening batsman Dale Tassone set up Kilmore’s impressive 6/206 to 116 win against Seymour.
Tassone did the damage early before a middle-order knock of 57 by Ben Dawson gave the home side a huge total.
Rhys Melville (28) and James Voogt (26) made runs late for Seymour, but the visitors never had a chance to get back into the match.
Josh Buttler (4/14) and Robert Hanson (3/10) were the main wicket-takers for Kilmore.
Pyalong was outclassed in its 123 to 3/125 loss to Yea Tigers despite a knock of 44 by batsman Jamie Pryor.
Daniel Sowden (20*) was the only other Pyalong batsman to stick around at the crease, and Yea breezed through the run chase in only 27 overs.
This weekend’s semi-finals will feature Broadford host Yea Tigers and Tallarook visit Kilmore, with the winners of each match to square-off in the grand final.