Dunsborough have hit the lead on the Yates Shield points table for the first time this season, after defeating reigning premiers St Marys in Saturday's A-grade cricket encounter at Barnard Park.
The win by Dunsborough over Saints, coupled with Margaret River Hawks' victory over YOBS at Gloucester Park, means that only five points now separates first from third in the race to host this year's grand finals. Dunsborough are leading on 81 points, followed by Hawks on 80 points and YOBS on 76 points. St Marys are fourth on 41 points and will miss the finals.
The threat of rain last Saturday resulted in a sensible pre-game agreement between skippers Danny Hatton (Saints) and Ian Purcell (Dunsborough) to shorten the game from 50 to 45 overs each.
Put into bat on a slightly wet track, Saints started surely with 47 on the board before losing Jack Marwick, but were restricted by tight bowling from left-armer Jesse Gautrey (2-20 off 9 overs) and surprise packet Michael Vogelsanger (3-26 off 8 overs). Hattin (34) and Ritchie (27) were the best of the bats for Saints in their score of 7-141 at the expiry of their overs.
Dunsborough lost an early wicket in the chase but steadied through Chris Reagan (55) and Phil Watts (41) with a match-winning partnership which took the total to 100 before further loss. Despite a flurry of wickets in the middle-order, Dunsborough cruised to victory - and top spot on the ladder - with nearly 10 overs to spare.
Down at Margaret River, YOBS had the early upper hand when they dried up the Hawks run-scoring with opening bowler Neil Langenhoven (1-16 off 10 overs) at his economical best.
Dropped catches allowed Hawks to get away, and Sri Lankans Charith Jayampathi (27) and Rumesh Silva (42) led the scoring, along with a typically hard-hitting 36 from Grant Garstone, as Hawks recovered to post a competitive 7-166 from 50 overs.
YOBS had the ever-reliable Harvey Golding (37) to thank for giving them a chance, but left-arm spinner Rumesh Silva's devastating 3-15 off 10 overs decided the game in Hawks' favour.
Legspinner Peter Crimp's three wickets enabled him to reach the coveted 300-wicket career milestone for Margaret River Hawks Cricket Club, joining a select band of bowlers.
In the end YOBS succumbed to 123 all out in 41 overs, handing Hawks their first A-Grade win in the competition for the New Year.