NORTH Geelong toppled second-placed Geelong Cricket Association division one side Lara to open up a game-and-a-half buffer at the top of the table entering the Christmas break.
The Magpies have only lost one match, to South Barwon by two runs, as well as registering a draw across the first nine rounds of the season, putting them in a commanding position.
Prior to walking out to the middle, captain Tom Mathieson felt anything over 200 would be a quality score, but once he saw the quality of the deck, 230 became the goal. North Geelong delivered that target off the back of Blake Troy (60 runs) and Mathieson (48*) in the latter stages, helping the side to 7-233 from its 50 overs.
No Lara bowler took more than two wickets, although Daniel Hughes produced a brilliant day with the ball, taking 1-9 off 10 overs.
In response, Lara had a number of players get starts, but none managed to go on to make anything more than 30 as Alistair McCann took 4-24 and Lara ended its 50 overs well short of the target at 7-168.
Mathieson was stoked with his side’s start to the season, providing the foundation for a tilt at the GCA1 premiership.
“To come out of that with one loss, that’s clearly a great result,” Mathieson said.
“We’ve got to push really hard for the first four games (after Christmas) to consolidate our spot at the top.
“It would be good to finish on top… but it’s all about finding form at the right time wherever you finish.”
North Geelong will take on Highton when competition returns on January 16. It will be bolstered by the return of opening bowler Tim Arnel, who has been managing a back strain and is expected to be right to play after Christmas.
Elsewhere, ninth-placed Leopold shocked top four outfit Newtown & Chilwell with a brilliant bowling performance to notch up a 92-run victory. Leopold made 176 with the bat, before dismissing Two Blues for just 84. Dylan Ryan (3-9) and Ben Horne (3-22) led the attack.
Murgheboluc made it back-to-back victories leading into Christmas, defeating Joey’s in a thriller. The Frogs passed St Joseph’s total with just one wicket to spare and four balls remaining.
Lachlan Inglis (83) led East Belmont to a convincing nine-wicket win over Grovedale while South Barwon claimed a three-wicket victory over the Heat with eight balls to spare.
A CLEAR gap between the top four sides and the rest has opened up in the Geelong Cricket Association division two firsts competition.
Following the weekend’s results, led by fourth-placed Geelong City overcoming fifth-placed Bell Park, the top four is now two games clear of the chasing pack.
Geelong City reeled in Bell Park’s total in the nick of time in the Twenty20 format. The Dragons made 8-106 and the Sharks hit the winning runs at five wickets down and with one ball up their sleeve. Skipper Jack Driver led from the front making an unbeaten 39 runs off 34 balls.
Torquay proved too strong for St Peters. Tom Dunn made a brilliant 55 not out off 41 balls to ensure the Tigers passed the 113-run total four wickets down.
Alexander Thomson’s James Syddall made an unbeaten 63 to take his side to 5-122, but it was not enough to stop second-placed Bell Post Hill. The Panthers looked to be in trouble at 3-35 but they hit the winning runs with three balls to spare as Glen Talarico (32 off 28) and David Handley (17 off 11) put on 34 for the seventh wicket.
Marshall enters the Christmas break in top spot after beating Modewarre by nine wickets. The bowlers set-up the day, keeping the Warriors to 7-90 from their 20 overs. Jake Dubbeldam took 2-7 off three overs while Charlie McDonald claimed 2-16 from four. Lachie Cameron (50* off 43) and Corey Walter (30* off 38) steered the Bears across the line.