PORT Fairy produced its best bowling performance of the season to be in a commanding position after the first day of its two-day match against Wesley-CBC.
The Pirates routed the Beavers for just 81 on Saturday before reaching 8-150 at stumps on a day of high drama at Avery’s Paddock.
An outright win is a possibility, although coach Steve Mirtschin was yesterday more intent his men avoided a devastating reverse outright loss.
Mirtschin described the opening day as “bittersweet”.
He was pleased with his bowlers but disappointed with the batting display.
“At the moment we’re 8-150. I still think both sides are in it, the game isn’t won or lost,” he said.
“We’ve only batted for 40 overs for eight wickets down. It’s a situation we still need to improve on.
“I don’t feel the job is done quite yet. But next week is next week. Hopefully we see the win.”
Wickets fell at regular intervals after Port Fairy won the toss and sent Wesley-CBC in.
Only Joe Higgins (23) and Bevan Stokie (22) troubled the scoreboard after the top order failed for only the second time this season.
Sam McCartney was the main destroyer, taking 3-14 from eight overs. Englishman Phil Coleman grabbed 3-3 to clean up the tail.
Port Fairy lost Joe Medew-Ewen and James Habel for ducks early in its reply but Tim McLean and Coleman steadied the ship.
The pair put on 79 for the third wicket to ensure first-innings points for the Pirates.
McLean made 58, while Coleman reached 34. Higgins took 4-41 to be the best of the Beavers’ bowlers, continuing a standout season for the all-rounder.
“A target like 81, they’re the hardest targets to chase. You don’t know what mindset to go out with,” Mirtschin said.
“The aim was to bat the day out and get that first-innings lead, which is what’s happened.
“But the wickets we lost were a bit of a concern.”
In other Merri conference matches, skipper Dustin Drew blasted a century to hand Dennington control over Nirranda at Dennington.
Drew hit 114 opening the batting and formed vital partnerships with Peter Shepherd (27) and Jamie Squires (51) in a score of 9-278. The left-hander said the ton was his fourth for Dennington, to go with a couple at Melbourne Country Week.
He was dropped once, a tough chance at deep mid-on when he was on about 80.
“I hit it pretty hard and flat,” he said.
“The last couple of games we’ve been 3-20 and 3-10. It’s good to get a score.
“It’s good to bounce back.
“I said to the boys during the week and yesterday, don’t come out and blaze from ball one, you don’t have to.
“Build an innings, play out maidens and wait for your ball in your area.
“Everyone has to play their game.”
West Warrnambool shaded Nestles in the other match. The Panthers restricted the Factory to 7-152 from a rain-reduced 72 overs.
Brett Eldridge top scored with 57, while Jye Turland grabbed 3-28 from 10 overs to be the pick of the bowlers.
In the Hopkins conference, Brierly-Christ Church has the upper hand against Russells Creek, having posted 6-238 at Brierly.
Nathan Murphy (92) and Leigh Pollard (91) put on 167 for the third wicket, the best partnership in division one.
Merrivale opener Josh Stapleton top scored with 63 to lay the foundation of the Tigers’ 9-243 against East Warrnambool-YCW at Jones Oval.
Captain Michael Walsh made 43 Bronco James Reid took 3-45.
Woodford routed Allansford for 133 at Jack Keane Oval, having lost 20 overs to rain at the start of the day.
Hank Schlaghecke (3-19) and Tyler Fowler (3-25) were the main destroyers.
Matt Brophy made 32.