A BITTERSWEET knock from teenage batsman Hugh McCluggage has put Allansford in the box seat against East Warrnambool-YCW at Uebergang Oval.
McCluggage, 15, fell one run short of a century as the Gators made 251 in their Warrnambool and District Cricket Association Hopkins conference match.
His 99 included 12 boundaries and came less than a fortnight after he posted 100 for Western Waves at under 16 state championships.
Brad Sheen was the Gators’ next best against the Broncos, making 42. McCluggage and Sheen put on 107 for the fifth wicket during the middle of the day.
Allansford captain Kyall Timms said McCluggage batted with a maturity beyond his years. He gave a couple of half-chances through slips but that was it.
“He was very cool, calm, calculated with his innings. He summed up the situation pretty well. He knew he needed to bat time,” Timms said.
“He realised if he was there in the last 20 overs he would be able to capitalise on the platform he had set.
‘‘And he was able to do that.
“For a 15-year-old kid to sum up the situation like that was brilliant.
‘‘His temperament is very good, he’s very relaxed.
“If he doesn’t score for two or three overs, it doesn’t worry him.
‘‘He just goes about his business.”
Timms said he believed McCluggage was “one of the most talented juniors I’ve seen in a long time” but acknowledged his bias in the argument.
“He’s getting a lot of just rewards for the effort he puts in,” he said.
‘‘He trains very hard, he does a lot of the right things, he comes from a great family.’’
In other Hopkins conference matches, Russells Creek took the honours against Woodford, dismissing the Eels for 198 at Jetty Flat.
All-rounder Paul Walker had the biggest influence with the ball, taking 4-16 from 14 miserly overs, while Kory Howlett top scored with 50.
And late wickets lifted Brierly-Christ Church back into its match against Merrivale at Brierly after a below-par batting performance.
The Bulls made 200 from 59 overs, a score which could have been much more had Nathan Murphy (60) and Stephen Easterbrook (46) stayed at the crease.
But the Tigers instead finished the day on the back foot at 2-31.
Josh Stapleton (zero) and Justin Lynch (three) have already lost their wickets.
In the Merri conference, Wesley-CBC fought back superbly with the ball to give itself every change to upstage Dennington at Walter Oval.
The Beavers were all out for 132, continuing a worrying trend with the bat, but reduced the Dogs to 5-65 by stumps as 12 wickets fell after tea.
Tom Bowman was the destructive force, dismissing Dustin Drew, Josh Squires and Daminda Ranaweera en route to 3-20 from nine overs.
Wesley-CBC captain Andrew Cheeseman said the match was a must-win for his men and described the first 10 overs this weekend as “crucial”.
“We spoke before the game, this is pretty much it. If Dennington win, we go two games behind them with two to play,” he said.
“I still think it’s 50-50. They’ll bat quite low. They’ve got some good batsmen to come. If we get a couple early we’ll be on top and if they get a partnership going they’ll be on top.”
Nirranda produced one of its best days for the season in making 200 and reducing Nestles to 1-25 at Reid Oval.
Jay Wynd (44), Damon Delaney (42) and Jason Mungean (30) all got among the runs but were unable to punish the Factory attack.
But James Dalton ensured the Knights took the honours by removing Geoff Williams for 13 late in the day.
And unbeaten West Warrnambool is in command of its match against Port Fairy at Davidson Oval.
Karl Turner top scored with 81 and Ben Threfall and Andrew Niklaus each made 47 in the Panthers’ 270.
Paceman Tom Smith then made the Pirates’ task even tougher by bowling Ryan Dorling and Tim McLean to reduce them to 2-15.