THE Jeremy Burgess show dominated day one and Zashan Arshad stepped into the spotlight on day two.
English import Arshad produced the bowling figures of the summer to lead Merrivale to a crucial win against Allansford at Uebergang Oval.
He finished with 7-22 from 10 overs as the Gators collapsed to be all out for 109, with only Nick Maddison (64) providing resistance.
The performance lifted the Tigers to a 153-run win, having made 261 a week earlier thanks to a defiant 127 from Burgess.
They batted a second time, reaching 7-151, and are 10 points clear at the top of the Hopkins conference ladder.
Arshad, who has replaced Will Chapples as the Tigers’ import, has taken 20 wickets at 9.60 since landing in Australia.
Merrivale vice-captain Josh Stapleton said he was impressed watching one of the most destructive bowling displays in years.
Stapleton said the import struggled early in the season, failing to adjust to bouncier pitches Down Under, but bowled full and with pace on the weekend.
“He was a little bit disappointed he didn’t get picked for Country Week so he put a bit more effort in and got the wickets,” Stapleton said.
Stapleton said the win was vital for Merrivale given how close the Hopkins conference is, compared to the Merri conference.
“We play better in the two-day cricket to be totally honest. We established the match on the weekend as one we really wanted to win,” he said.
“If we won that and kept our winning ways going, it would hold us in good stead when finals come around.”
In other Hopkins conference matches, defiance from the Murphy brothers went in vain as Brierly-Christ Church lost to Woodford at Brierly.
The Bulls were all out for 243 in reply to the Eels’ 311 from day one to suffer a second consecutive defeat and drop to fourth in the conference.
Mark Murphy top-scored with 78 opening the innings while Nathan Murphy made 55 at number four, with the pair putting on 116 for the third wicket.
They were both out with the score on 160 as the Bulls lost 8-84 to end their innings. Jake McKinnon grabbed 5-70 to lead the bowling attack.
East Warrnambool-YCW completed a season double over a disappointing Russells Creek by posting a four-wicket win at Jones Oval.
The Broncos, resuming at 5-95, lost one more wicket before passing Creek’s 133 and finishing all out for 199.
Creek made 5-146 batting a second time, with Bill Quinlivan cashing in to claim 53 not out to take confidence into this weekend.
In the Merri conference, West Warrnambool remains unbeaten and 12 points clear on top after thrashing Wesley-CBC at Davidson Oval.
The Panthers had 8-248 on the board from day one and dismissed the Beavers for 142, with Bevan Stokie top-scoring with 49.
Young paceman Tom Smith led the bowling attack by taking 5-30 and Jye Turland grabbed 4-32.
Port Fairy moved to third thanks to its defeat of Nirranda, although both sides emerged content with their efforts on day two.
The Pirates, resuming at 6-154 and already past the Knights’ 151, finished all out for 229 thanks to Shaun Ploenges making 41 not out.
The Knights followed up by producing their best batting performance for the season in the second innings, making 5-197.
Jay Wynd top-scored with 89 — his fourth consecutive half-century — and James Dalton made 55 not out.
Dennington maintained second spot by running through Nestles for just 135 to successfully defend 262 at Dennington. Peter Shepherd was the unlikely hero, taking four wickets including that of Geoff Williams for 13. Scott Kelly top-scored with 24.