YOBS, Margaret River Hawks and Dunsborough are locked in a three-way battle for the minor premiership leading into the last month of home-and-away games in the Busselton-Margaret River Cricket Association, following the outcome of Saturday's A-grade fixtures.
YOBS defeated St Marys in a low-scoring tussle at Barnard Park, while Dunsborough upset Hawks at the Dunsborough Playing Fields to ensure an interesting end-of-season battle for first place and the Yates Shield.
With all sides having played 11 games, YOBS (seven wins, four losses) lead the points table on 75, closely followed by Hawks on 68 and Dunsborough on 57 (both on six wins and five losses). St Marys, the reigning premiers, are fourth on 29 points.
After a great 68-run opening start by Harvey Golding (44) and Luke Wedderburn (45) at Barnard Park, YOBS collapsed on Saturday to be all out for 125, with no other batsmen reaching double figures, and five ducks being recorded. Import Taylor Chandler (3-22) and young opening bowler Lewis Milligan (3-33) claimed the honours with the ball for Saints.
In reply, Saints also found run-scoring difficult, with Marc Ford (20) and Chandler (21) topscoring as their teammates succumbed to an accurate YOBS attack led by offspinner Ben Payne (3-12 off 10 overs), left-armer Matt Connaughton (2-22) and skipper Haig Colombera (2-11). Saints were all out for 100, giving YOBS not only a win but also two valuable bonus points, by the margin of a solitary run.
At Dunsborough Playing Fields, after being put into bat by Hawks, the home side mounted a fine total of 9-193 from 50 overs, thanks to solid contributions from five team members: Aaron Mott (33), Chris King (36), Phil Watts (29), Cam Morris (26) and Ricky Small-Boyce (an invaluable 44 not out). Left-arm paceman Grant Garstone (1-11 off 10 overs) and legspinner Peter Crimp (3-39) were the pick of the attack for Hawks.
Small-Boyce (1-10 off 9 overs) continued his great form from Country Week to lead the Dunsborough attack as Hawks struggled to make 136 all out off 40 overs in reply. Sri Lankans Charith Jayampathi (45) and Rumesh Silva (49) dominated the scoring for Hawks, while four bowlers captured two wickets for Dunsborough, completing an excellent team performance on the day.
In B-grade cricket, Saints turned the tables on YOBS with a strong victory in the battle of the top two sides on the synthetic wicket at Barnard Park. YOBS fancied their chances after tallying 8-175 from 40 overs batting first, with Hamza Waseem hitting a great 84, while Kye Barrow took 5-43 for Saints with his zippy medium pace.
Saints went about their chase professionally, with Todd Hartnett (60), Jacob Cook (47) and Kye Barrow (46 not out) leading the way to a three-wicket win with four overs remaining.
The top of the B-grade points table now sees Saints (81 points) snapping at YOBS' heels (83).
Down at Gloucester Park, Dunsborough's B-grade side compiled 8-171 from 45 overs (Andy Mahoney 37 leading the way), and then bowled out Hawks for 137 (Harvey Fisher hitting 41).
On the turf at Cowaramup, Vasse extracted a measure of revenge for their T20 grand final loss the previous weekend when they routed the home side for a paltry 40 in 23 overs, with seamer Brad Kearney starring with figures of 6-27.
Vasse took less than 11 overs to knock off the winning runs despite the loss of three wickets, all three being taken by Ben Shepherd for the Bulls.
In C-grade cricket, Vasse made it a double when they also thrashed the Bulls on the hard wicket at Cowaramup.
Cowaramup's tally of 7-132 from 40 overs included 56 from Seb Miller, but was no match for Vasse, who romped to a 10-wicket win with Dennis Amour (71 not out) and Ian Truscott (55 no) putting on an unbroken stand of 137 in 27.3 overs for the first wicket in reply.
Rodney Griffiths turned back the clock for YOBS when he struck an unbeaten 120 in his team's total of 4-226 against St Marys at Churchill Park. Saints' response of 3-189 from 40 overs also featured a centurion, with Ben Taylor striking 105 not out.
Dunsborough completed a trifecta of wins over Hawks when they outpointed an undermanned C-grade Margaret River line-up on the hard wicket at Dunsborough. A depleted Hawks were dismissed for just 70, with Alex Coultas taking 4-17 for Dunsborough. Dunsborough took only 11 overs to overtake Hawks and win the game, with Oliver Miles hitting 35.
The C-grade points table is headed by Dunsborough on 71 points, followed by Vasse on 67 and YOBS on 54.