Dominant Demons deliver

Luke McMaster had a day out for Kooweerup, taking 3/24 to back up his earlier innings of 86. 264764 Pictures: ROB CAREW

By David Nagel

TOORADIN (179) v KOOWEERUP (6/215)

Kooweerup (6/215) could be just days away from sewing up the WGCA Premier Division minor premiership after the dominant Demons survived an early scare to roll second-placed Tooradin (179) at Westernport Oval on Saturday.

Given their extraordinary percentage advantage over the rest of the competition (3.23 to Tooradin’s 1.57), the Demons – one game clear at the top of the table – can basically lock away a crucial home-ground finals advantage if they can maintain their unbeaten record against the Seagulls when the two teams meet again at Denhams Road this Saturday.

Become two games clear – with a huge percentage gap – and top spot would be decided!

Last season’s runners-up made no secret of their desire to finish on top this season, with Demons’ skipper Chris Bright making it a clear target for his team in his pre-season interview.

Bright, who has been in terrific form this season, failed on the weekend as the Seagulls got off to a flyer.

Fiery opener Brad Butler had Bright (0) caught behind without scoring, and when Aaron Avery ran out Cody Miller – also for a duck – the Demons were 2/2 and in all sorts of trouble.

The visitors needed someone to stand up, and it was Luke McMaster (86) who answered the call, crunching 11 fours in a sensational run-a-ball innings of high class.

McMaster had the perfect ally by his side, with Videsh Dassanayake (40) pushing and prodding his way to a valuable innings off 77 balls – the building block of a 125-run stand with McMaster.

The Demons, as they do so often, decided to finish things off in style.

Jess Mathers (12) and Steve Dillon (14) both came out with intent, but it was a final salvo from two Kooweerup greats – Matt Davey (31 not out) and Chris O’Hara (21) – that took the score to beyond 200 and into match-winning range.

Kallan Braid-Ball (2/51) was punished by the Demons, but stuck to his guns to take bowling honours.

The Seagulls are one of the few teams in the competition who could challenge a 215-plus score, and things looked positive early as Tom Hussey (40) and skipper Cal O’Hare (30) built a 75-run stand.

The Demons attack then struck several key blows with the pace of McMaster (3/24) and the hypnotising flight of off-spinner Matt Bright (3/31) bringing the Seagulls challenge to its knees.

McMaster and Bright combined for the first five wickets to fall, turning a threatening 0/75 scoreline into a less invasive 5/95.

McMaster claimed the wickets of O’Hare and Josh Lownds (0), while Bright’s haul of Hussey, Michael Ralph (8) and Avery (8) is as impressive as it was important.

Dylan Sutton (23), Russ Lehman (22) and Butler (21 not out) all tried their best to bat the Gulls back into the contest, but when O’Hara (2/18) struck twice, and McMaster finished off the innings by bowling Braid-Ball (10) …a deserving top-of-the-table contender had been found.

Win this week and the Demons are going to be mighty hard to stop!


Pakenham’s resurgence in the West Gippsland Cricket Association (WGCA) Premier Division reached an important milestone on Saturday with the Lions storming back into the top four for the first time this season.

A perennial powerhouse of the WGCA for several years now, the Lions have squared the ledger after a zero-three start to proceedings.

A bolstered middle order, and the return to form of some proven big-game performers, would appear to have the Lions well placed to make an assault on this year’s title.

Yes, their three wins have come against three of the four teams that currently sit outside the top four, but it’s the way the Lions are winning – and the confidence being built – that suggests their form is legitimate and likely to stand up under pressure.

Pakenham (6/232) was tested early by Carlisle Park (160) on Saturday.

Their two big guns, Chris Smith (0) and skipper Dale Tormey (4) were back in the sheds with just 13 runs on the board, a delicate position that would have caused heart flutters during the Lions’ early-season losing streak.

But reliable performers Rob Elston (22) and Jason Williams (33) – two players that have played crucial roles in the Lions return to form – got things back on track with a 52-run stand that put the game on a level footing.

But the Vikings could still sense some vulnerability, with Rob Fuller (2/38) removing both Elston and Williams – both caught by Brendan McCarthy – to leave the game once again in the balance at 4/77.

The Lions are now in a much better position to deal with these sorts of challenges, with the return to form of Troy McDermott (65) – and return to the crease of a rejuvenated Zac Chaplin (60) – providing a much healthier and dangerous look through the middle order.

McDermott cracked five fours and a six, and Chaplin five boundaries and two maximums, in a prolific 119-run stand that finally gave the Lions the upper hand.

McDermott was in a seriously aggressive mood – scoring at better than a run-a-ball off his 56 deliveries faced, while Chaplin was only slightly more circumspect…with his 60 coming off 61!

With the Vikings’ back now broken it was left to the power-hitting of Sean Gramc (24 not out) to put the icing on the cake.

The Lions perfect blue-print for white-ball cricket includes a late-Gramc surge…and he delivered perfectly with two towering sixes being smashed from his 18 balls at the crease.

Fuller and Ethan Davies (3/32) stuck to their guns for the winless Vikings – who were always going to be challenged in reply.

Ravi Kodithuwakku (12) and Dave Nutting (30) combined for a 40-run opening stand, but when both were removed by Tom Brennan (2/31) the Lions had gained complete ascendency.

Kasun Balasuriya (66) held the Vikings together through the middle order, but consistent bowling from the likes of Brennan, James Close (3/20), Williams (2/14) and Marcus Martini (2/27) saw the Lions cruise to a 72-run victory.

Due to the reverse draw, the Lions and Vikings will reconvene this week for another important encounter – this time on the Lions’ home ground at Toomuc Reserve.

CLYDE (7/163) v CARDINIA (3/167)

Cardinia (3/167) coach Bradey Welsh (97 not out) is one of the most attractive batters to watch in the WGCA Premier Division – and the classy right-hander produced at exactly the right time for his club to lead the Bulls to a clinical seven-wicket victory over Clyde (7/163) at Ramlegh Reserve on Saturday.

Welsh strode to the crease with the reigning premiers in a fair degree of trouble – with Alex Nooy (5) and Travis Wheller (0) both ripping off the pads with the score at 2/11 – chasing the Cougars competitive total.

And when skipper Jake Prosser (12) also left the scene – becoming the third victim for the virtually unplayable Johanne Siritunga (3/22) – the Bulls were staring down the barrel of their third defeat in as many starts!

But fast-forward roughly two hours and Welsh and his brother Matt (43 not out) had delivered beyond expectations, carving out a brilliant undefeated 144-run partnership that needed to be built from the ground up.

After two consecutive losses, and against an opponent seemingly at their top of their game…there was pressure on the Welsh boys there’s no doubt about that.

Bradey cracked six fours and four sixes in a mesmerising knock that contained several of his trademark shots – classy and upright cover drives and some superb pulls and cuts being the order of the day.

Matt also cracked six fours, in an innings maybe not of the same substance…but equally as important at the end of the day.

Siritunga’s early onslaught had the Cougars feeling very good about themselves after they stood tall with the bat against a talented and frugal Bulls’ attack.

Star all-rounder Brett Reid (56 not out) did some late damage for the home side after Kane Avard (33) and Suchin Herath (24) had earlier taken the Bulls to task.

Jack Bacon (2/18 off 7) stopped things from getting ugly for the Bulls…a spell that would later come to fruition, making the job of the Welsh boys slightly easier.

But only slightly easier…the classy and composed innings of Bradey and Matt Welsh could be huge for the Bulls when the finals wins and losses are tallied at the start of March.


Cranbourne Meadows (6/220) has prevailed in one of the matches of the WGCA Premier Division season with the Rebels holding off a wonderful challenge from Merinda Park (9/214) at Lawson Poole Reserve on Saturday.

The big guns were firing for both teams with 434 runs scored on a day dominated by the willow.

One of the biggest stars in the WGCA this season – Rebels opener Karanvir Singh (89) – got the ball rolling with another enterprising innings that would eventually lead his side to victory.

Singh is one the very few players in the competition – think Chris Bright, Tom Hussey and Chris Smith – that control the destiny of a contest from the top of the order.

If Singh fires, as he has done twice this season…the Rebels usually win!

The hard-hitting Singh had great support on the weekend, with skipper Sunny Paul (47) and mid-order batters Pardeep Singh (30) and Harkamal Khokhar (22) delivering some telling blows after Karanvir’s very bright start.

The Rebels are not always consistent but are a very dangerous commodity when the ball hits the middle of the bat like it did on the weekend.

The Panthers found out the hard way with Luke Dinger (2/34) the only bowler to take multiple wickets before tea.

The Panthers made a great fist of their run-chase, with in-form openers Cambell Bryan (36) and Daniel McCalman (27) doing what they do best…seeing off the new ball and giving their teammates a wonderful platform to build on.

Bryan and McCalman have clearly been the most consistent opening partnership in the WGCA Premier Division this year, but haven’t always had the backing of the remainder of the order.

But the pair had plenty of support on the weekend, with Manu Goraya (28) taking over from where Bryan and McCalman left off, with Sasindu Perera (58 not out) and Mandhiraj Singh (17) almost pulling off a late miracle.

Despite their brilliant batting, the Rebels almost squandered things with the ball.

Only the ongoing wicket taking skills of Varinder Virk (2/27), Sunny Paul (2/41) and the expensive Gurpreet Bharma (2/69) saw the 12 premiership points head the way of the Rebels.