Mt Clear announced itself as the team to beat in the Ballarat Cricket Association firsts by inflicting Darley's first loss of the season at St Patrick’s College on Saturday.
Mounties produced a sensational bowling display on day two to register the 67-run victory.
Darley resumed at 0-30 in its pursuit of 215, but Mt Clear’s highly-rated attack backed up its reputation with early breakthroughs and then steamrolled the Lions’ tail.
The match hung in the balance at 5-139, with Darley requiring another 76 runs before Mt Clear captain Darren Fletcher removed his opposing number Heather Pritchard for 43.
This triggered a batting collapse which saw the Lions lose their last five wickets for eight runs.
Fletcher said the side went in with an attacking mindset and stuck to its plan of bowling in the right areas which inevitably brought about the wickets.
“We set pretty attacking fields and backed ourselves to make sure we got the ball in the right areas and I think we did today,” Fletcher said.
“We just hung in there, things got a bit tight and we kept telling ourselves to keep putting it in the right areas and the game will change.”
Darcy Thomson, 4-41, and Nathan Yates, 4-41, combined extremely well to lead the attack.
Fletcher said it was great to see Thomson fit so well into the side having joined the club this season. While Yates, now in his fourth season as a Mountie, complemented him beautifully.
Mt Clear put the faith in its opening bowlers and it was rewarded.
“A fair bit of faith was in them. They’re blokes we expect to do the job and they came through, which is fantastic for us.”
Fletcher felt last week’s total of 214 was shy of what he would’ve liked, but he always had confidence the bowling attack could defend even a modest total.
So once you’ve got the runs on the board, they’ve got to get them.
“Runs on board, build pressure and it can be a funny game.”
Fletcher was rapt with the victory, not only because it was over a quality opponent, but because Mt Clear was coming off the bye.
He believes the bye, particularly coming off a two-week break, could play a factor in sides’ performances throughout the season.
“It could be a month between hits sometimes – so you certainly want to keep winning form.”
Mt Clear is six points clear of Darley, Wendouree and Golden Point after four rounds.