By Richard Millott
The back-half of the Ferntree Gully and District Cricket Association season got underway over the weekend, with several teams securing opening wins of the new decade.
Ferntree Gully Footballers closed the gap to the top four, defeating Eildon Park at Picketts Reserve.
The Panthers padded up first and after an early loss, David Smyth (44) combined with Josh Dowling (47) to take the score to 2/86.
The scoreboard ticked along for the Panthers before Ben Rawlings (4/16 off eight overs) helped trigger a collapse, the visitors losing 6/14 to end up at 144.
The Griffens also got off to a wobbly start as Zac Clark (3/30) ran through the top order.
The home team reached 5/30 before Nick Bogar (65*) and Braydon Dobinson (43*) helped seal the win at 5/145.
The loss saw the Panthers drop out of the top four, with a chance to return to the winners list against Knoxfield next round.
The Basin returned to the top four in style after accounting for Belgrave.
The Magpies batted first on home soil, with Luke Spence (61) the pick of the batsmen.
He received solid support by Johnathon Levell who helped bring Belgrave to 176.
In reply, Blake Walter (78) and Shane Luck (39) helped reel in the target at 3/177.
The Bears now sit in third place and will host a key match against Knox Gardens at Batterham Reserve next week.
Lysterfield remained on top after a key win against Knoxfield at Carrington Park.
The Knights batted first, with the early overs slow-going, and reached 3/39 at the 15 over mark.
Luke Scanlan (44) showed resistance against the Beaver bowlers to help the Knights get to 7/149.
In reply, Nathan Hicks (76) set the tone early, the Beavers reaching the target at 3/150 with 10 overs still in hand.
Upwey started the year in style against Johnson Park.
Johnson Park was 4/44 against the Tigers before being let off the hook, with Andrew Devenish scoring 81 not out across the day.
The Sharks reached 7/189 from their overs.
In reply, Cameron Wheeler showed his talents, the strike bowler reaching 93 not out as the Tigers reached 3/193.
Knox Gardens are keeping the Beavers honest at the top of the ladder after securing a win against Upper Ferntree Gully.
A half-century to Josh Gregory (56) and support from Joe Morsello (49) helped the Falcons set 7/194 from their overs before the bowlers completed the contest.
In Decoite Shield, Rowville upset Ferntree Gully at Wally Tew Reserve.
Alex Walker (45) and Brett Gatehouse (39) led the way on the scorecard for the Hawks, while Pat Mastertoun (4/21) and Jake Evans (3/23) were the pick of the bowling for the Blues.
The reply saw the Blues reach 1/64 before Darren Hill (4/14) and Chanaka Gunawardana (4/28) went through the Blues to dismiss the home team for 96.
Monbulk had a massive win over South Belgrave as wickets were the order of the day for the Hawks.
Craig Broekhof (4/15) and Braden Taeuber (3/39) denied the visitors any avenue to score runs, South dismissed with 92 on the board.
The Hawks made light work of the chase, with Aaron Bermingham (34) and Jason Fraser (37*) the noted scorers in reaching 1/93 from 32 overs.
In other games, Olinda accounted for St Johns Tecoma and Knox Gardens managed to claim victory in a tight arm-wrestle against Mountain Gate.
The FTGDCA has designated Round 9 next weekend as a Fire Relief Round after the devastating bushfires in communities in eastern Victoria.
Clubs will observe a minute’s silence, don black armbands and are encouraged to undertake fundraising initiatives to help raise funds for those in need.
The Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund serves to provide assistance directly to communities affected by the recent bushfires. More information can be found at www.gerf.org.au.