There was plenty of cause for celebration at Russell Square as East Ballarat continued its dream start to the Ballarat Cricket Association first grade season.
The Hawks claimed outright victory over Napoleons-Sebastopol as skipper Josh Brown notched up his maiden century.
Brown endured a nervous week as he sat on 86, having previously been dismissed a number of times through the 80s.
But the big-hitting Brown continued his dominance, bringing up the century with a boundary over cover – he finished the innings unbeaten on 133 from 98 balls as the Hawks declared, 209 runs ahead of Naps-Sebas.
Brown was stoked to bring up the milestone, particularly on his home turf.
“It was pretty cool. I’ve never done it, and who knows if I’ll ever do it again,” Brown said.
“To get it, especially at home at Russell Square – it was really good.”
During the week, Brown said East Ballarat’s declaration would be based on the condition of the pitch.
The Hawks opted to pile on another 76 runs and send Napoleons-Sebastopol back in to bat.
Oliver Hayes removed opener Lachlan Storey early, but Naps-Sebas looked to be putting up a solid fight as Anthony Taylor (24 runs) and Luke Corden (32) took the side to 2-51. But as Taylor fell, the rest of the batting line-up dropped far too frequently, the final eight wickets falling for 49 runs as Napoleons-Sebastopol was all out for 100.
Brown said the plan was to compile a 200-plus run lead and look to claim another 10 Naps-Sebas wickets, which it did with ease.
“We got 200-odd in front, which we were aiming for, so that was good.
“It looked like the pitch was going to be pretty good for spinners and not so much the pace bowlers.
“So we batted a bit before it deteriorated.
“I’ve never been a part of one (outright victory) in the A grade, I wouldn’t even know the last time it happened at East.
“Obviously they (Naps-Sebas) struggled a little bit, but to bowl them out twice – they’ve still got some good batsmen at the top of the order – it was good.”
East Ballarat extends its buffer at the top of the ladder, entering the round six points clear, it now moves 10 points ahead of Mt Clear.
GOLDEN Point endured some nervous moments, but ultimately claimed a two-wicket win over Wendouree on Saturday.
Chasing just 150, the Pointies resumed at 4-39 and Simon Ogilvie (45 runs) and Andrew Falkner (42) ensured the day began with a strong partnership. The pair put on 62 runs, but once that partnership was broken, the game tightened up.
Golden Point lost its eighth wicket with 13 more runs for victory, making for a tense Pointies camp.
Nonetheless, Daniel White (52*) and Nick Smith (10) were able to guide the side over the line. Skipper Josh White said the nail-biting run chase reminded him of the grand final.
“It was pretty tight, we lost a few wickets...we made hard work of it,” White said.
“Not that the same trophy was on the line, but it felt like the grand final, we were struggling to get the last 10.”
Golden Point remains in third spot, White said he was pleased with the teams current standing despite having its challengers over the opening nine rounds.
LATE wickets nearly unravelled what was looking like a comfortable Mt Clear victory.
The Mounties, in pursuit of 162 for victory against North Ballarat, were 5-122 before wickets began to fall.
Ash George was North paceman Ash McCafferty’s fifth victim and moved the score to 9-154 – eight to win, with one wicket in hand.
But Darren Fletcher (8 runs) and Grant Trevenen (16) were up to the task, Trevenen hitting a boundary down the ground to pass the total as Mt Clear was eventually dismissed for 176.
Mounties skipper Darcy Thomson said the side made the run chase tougher than it needed to be due to a couple of poor dismissals.
“There were a few poor shots from some of the boys up the top, so we put ourselves under a bit of pressure,” Thomson said.
“We just chased the ball a bit too much...going from the shorter format into our first longer game, it probably showed.”
McCafferty finished with figures of 5-64 while Mitch Nicholson took 5-37.
Mt Clear remains in second spot, while North slips back to seventh.
BUNINYONG had no trouble knocking over Brown Hill on Saturday.
The Bunnies stormed through the Bulls line-up, dismissing them for 135 – opening bowlers Matt Ringin (3-36) and Liam Rigby (3-27) doing the bulk of the damage.
Chasing Buninyong’s 299 was always going to be a tall order, and it proved just that.
Ryan and Jason Knowles topped the run-scorers with 37 and 31 respectively, but it was not enough.
Buninyong now takes Brown Hill’s spot in the top four, edging the Bulls out on percentage.
For Brown Hill, it has lost four of its past five matches.
After an outstanding, and somewhat unexpected, start to the season, the Bulls find themselves desperately needing to post victory against Wendouree in next round’s two-dayer – or else risk falling further.
DARLEY made it four wins in a row, chasing down Ballarat-Redan’s total with four wickets to spare.
The Lions were well lead by a 63-run partnership between Brad Barnes (39 runs) and skipper Michael Alexander (27) as they set out to get Two Swords 164-run total.
Darley ending the day at 6-168 from 71 overs.
Brendan Thomson was the pick of the Ballarat-Redan bowlers, taking 3-32 from his 24 overs, including an impressive 13 maidens.