Swans test Lions’ mettle

Pearcedale captain Kaine Smith gets plenty of air with the ball on Saturday. 177483 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Nick Creely


For a day and a half, the young Casey-South Melbourne side certainly took it up to the benchmark of the competition, and they almost walked away with a memorable victory.
While the Swans lost at Schramms Reserve in the Saturday/Sunday clash to reigning premiers, Fitzroy Doncaster, it made two great strides in its season, climbing off the bottom of the ladder and showing enormous fight and pride.
The same issues that have plagued the Swans faced them once again; quick and denting batting collapses; when they won the toss and elected to bat.
Big Trent Lawford (4/55) struck early, removing both Dev Pollock (2) and Luke Manders (6), to expose an inexperienced middle order into the fray.
Michael Wallace (22) and Chris Benedek (37) did a fine job in getting the scoreboard ticking over, and put on 42 runs to set up a decent platform.
But the wicket of Benedek; courtesy of consistent spinner Ejaaz Alavi (3/32); also brought the undoing of Lachlan Sperling (5), Wallace and then Dylan Hadfield (11), and suddenly the Swans were 5/84.
Youngster Joel Mitchell (55) and pace bowler Brendan Rose (62) then got together, combining resilience with class, to spend some valuable time out in the middle, and the pair put on a brilliant 92 run stand.
The pair both crossed their maiden first XI half centuries, in a milestone for the two talented players, as the Swans reached a competitive 211.
The Lions were shaky on day two, with Rose (2/38) and Jackson Fry (1/34) taking three early scalps as Nathan Lambden (leg) missed with injury, and suddenly the Lions were on the back foot at 3/13.
Skipper Peter Dickson (90 not out) oozed class and eventually the Lions fought to a hard fought four wicket win, with Lawford (42 not out) helping guide the home side to victory.
But Swans coach Prabath Nissanka was proud of his troops for fighting tooth and nail; especially with the bat; and almost clinching the upset of the season.
“It was a tough wicket to bat on, and we managed to put up a few good partnerships, but we were fighting, and we worked really hard to get to 211,” he said.
“And with the ball, we were pretty disciplined, almost two to three sessions we were on the money and bowling really well, it was good to see some fight.
“But we weren’t good enough to beat them, but lots of positives to take out, for sure.”
Those positives; according to Nissanka; were that of Brendan Rose and Joel Mitchell; who are part of an exciting future at the club.
“He (Rose) batted so well; if he had a couple of wickets to bat with, he would have actually scored a century,” Nissanka said.
“Joel has a lot of talent, we all know that; he can play 360 degree shots, but it’s about spending more time in the middle, and that is something we work with him, and talking to him very often about how he will build an innings.
“This is a young side, I was expecting a tough year; as long as they learn from their mistakes, and start learning to build an innings and get bigger runs, that will be good for our future.”
The Swans host Monash Tigers at Casey Fields on Saturday, as the look to find some late season scalps.
Dandenong, meanwhile, lost outright against St Kilda down at Junction Oval, with the Panthers slipping to fifth on the table as a result.
In a season where there is a logger jam between fifth and eighth spot, the Panthers are choosing the wrong time of the season to be out of form.
After being sent in on day one, the Panthers had their work cut out for them early when skipper Tom Donnell departed in the first over, courtesy of swing bowler Henry Hall (7/26); who had the ball hooping around.
Comrey Edgeworth (0), Ed Newman (0) and Lincoln Edwards (0) and Dasun Opanayaka all failed to trouble the scorers as Hall ripped the top order to shreds and exposed weaknesses, and suddenly the Panthers were 5/17, in what was their second major top order collapse in a row.
Brett Forsyth (37) remained steady at the top despite the test, crunching some beautiful drives and remaining solid in defence, but he was running out of partners before he also fell victim to Hall to bring the score to 8/72.
The Panthers pinch hit slightly at the end, but was bowled out for a disappointing 90 in just 30.2 overs.
Medium pacers Peter Cassidy (4/32) and James Nanopoulos (3/29) ensured the Saints wouldn’t claim first innings points without a fight, with the pair using their craft to grind the home side down, despite a five boundary cameo to Harry Michelmore (23).
The pair bowled a stump to stump length as scoring became difficult and every run like a gold nugget, but just enough patience did the trick for the Saints as they slowly worked towards a narrow lead.
The Saints crossed the Panthers’ first innings total before being bowled out for 116, and with plenty of time left in the game, they were still well and truly in the contest for an unlikely reverse outright win.
On day two, Lincoln Edwards (55), a patient Comrey Edgeworth (23) and an aggressive hand by James Nanopoulos (38) saw the Panthers reach 169, meaning the Saints needed 144 for outright.
The Panthers picked up four early scalps to sit comfortably at 4/25, but Michelmore once again rescued the home side despite an enormous amount of pressure, compiling a patient 54 off 120 balls, as the Saints narrowly crossed the line nine wickets down in a thrilling finish to the match that could have gone anyway.
Dandenong will look to find some momentum nearing finals when they host Northcote at Shepley Oval on Saturday.
Buln Buln enjoyed a memorable weekend of cricket, with the Lyrebirds belting a mammoth first innings total against Drouin on Saturday.
Batting first, Rhys Holdsworth (101) struck his second century of the year, and combined with skipper Bryce Monahan (69) helped lift the Lyrebirds to a brilliant 337 in 78.5 overs.
Simon Gardiner (3/88) charged in hard all day for the Hawks on what was a tough day in the field.
Yarragon also build a strong first innings total in their clash with Longwarry away from home, with the Panthers racking up 5/234 in their 72 overs.
Off the back of skipper Jake Borsato (59) and Gamini Kumara (52), the Panthers were in control for most of the afternoon.
Hallora (196), meanwhile, is locked in a tight battle with Ellinbank (0/6), as the Kangaroos make a run for top spot.
Western Park has the bye.
The Lyrebirds also claimed the White Ball premiership on Sunday against Hallora, with Brent Eastwell (100) belting a ton in a total of 9/277.
After losing the early wicket of Jack Armour, the Lyrebirds; courtesy of Jack Paull (75) and Eastwell, went at almost eight an over in the massive total.
Ryan Williams (3/33) was by far the pick of the bowlers in the run fest.
The ‘Roos gave it an almighty crack, finishing on 9/240 courtesy of strong half centuries to James Vela (68) and David Macdermid (56).
A bag of wickets to Pearcedale star Chris Dew has the Panthers with a sneaky chance of an almighty upset against top of the table Langwarrin at Pearcedale Reserve.
While the Panthers are out of contention for finals, the Kangaroos were tested after winning the toss and batting.
After two early wickets courtesy of skipper Kaine Smith (3/60), the ‘Roos got their act together, with Matt Prosser showing his class to anchor the innings with a patient 89.
Skipper Travis Campbell (52) was also among the runs, but it was a brilliant display of bowling from Dew, who finished with the stellar bowling figures of 5/59 off 29 overs, as he combined for 56 overs with Smith for the day.
Dew has been a star for the Panthers this season with 319 runs and 23 wickets next to his name for the year, and will need every bit of his class if they’re to chase the runs down next week.
In the other matches across the round, Sorrento (2/16) lost two early wickets in its pursuit of Mt Eliza’s (117) total, Peninsula OB (212) is cruising against Crib Point (1/6), while Mornington (122) seemingly hasn’t made enough runs to contain Baxter (0/8).
Spits and spurts of momentum wasn’t enough for Endeavour Hills to race down Noble Park’s 247 on day one, with the Eagles falling 76 runs short on Saturday.
After losing three early wickets leaving them 3/28, a 111 run partnership between Ben Law (63) and Nilochana Perera (36) got the Eagles back on track, but Perera’s wicket brought about a collapse.
Richard Saniga (26) fought hard later in the innings, but the Parkers were too classy, eventually taking the last six wickets for just 32 runs.
Andrew Berman (4/42) was the star for the Parkers with the ball.

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