FRONTLINE paceman Ben Boyd produced season-best figures as Russells Creek defied six weeks without bowling to tear through Port Fairy.
Boyd took 6-40 from 19.4 overs, including five maidens, as Creek dismissed the Pirates for 72 on day one of a two-day clash at Avery’s Paddock.
Creek will resume its innings this weekend at 8-102 with an outside chance to claim an outright victory.
Boyd bowled unchanged during a marathon spell which included the wickets of openers Ryan Dorling for a duck and Shaun Ploenges for 15.
He also removed Brad Parsons (6), Angelo Henke (10) and tailenders Mark Jones (2) and Stephen Dwyer (0).
The match-winning haul took his season’s wicket tally to 18.
Boyd, who is all but certain to line up for Warrnambool at Melbourne Country Week next month, credited extra fitness for his performance.
“It was warm enough, with the breeze it was pretty good conditions for bowling and batting, it wasn’t too hot,” he said.
“It was just probably being a bit more fit. I’ve been doing a bit more running.
“We haven’t seriously had a crack at bowling since November — the game before Christmas we batted and the second week it was washed out.
“And last week we didn’t play. We’ve had a long period off, we were pretty keen.”
Port Fairy rarely had periods of dominance on Saturday as Boyd, captain Nathan Divall and Paul Walker bowled a combined 38.4 overs.
Four Pirates reached double figures while their biggest partnership was 28 between Ploenges and Andrew McCartney (16).
“(The pitch) was hard and dry. It was fine but it was quite hard to drive unless there was an over-pitched ball,” Boyd said.
“The grass cover on it was pretty good. If you look at the scorecard there might’ve been one or two dismissals caught behind the wicket for them.”
Creek was in trouble early in its run chase but passed the Pirates’ score thanks to Paul Walker (28) and Bill Quinlivan (26).
Jeremy Cook is not out 12 and Boyd is not out five.
In other WDCA top-grade matches, East Warrnambool-YCW is on the verge of its second win of the season against Brierly-Christ Church at Jones Oval. The Broncos dismissed the Bulls for 104 but are under pressure at 3-49 in reply. Opener Sam McKimmie and captain Mick Townsend are at the crease.
Woodford is 0-7 in reply to ladder-leader Dennington’s 190 all out after an even day in the match of the round at Jack Keane Oval.
Dogs opener Josh Squires carried his bat in making 90 not out but ran out of partners on the verge of a century.
West Warrnambool posted 188 against Nestles at Reid Oval in another evenly-balanced match.
Alistair Templeton top scored with 58 and Ben Dobson made 48.
Wesley-CBC and Nirranda have claims for victory in their match at Walter Oval.
The Beavers made 9-178, thanks to 46 from Andrew Cheeseman.