With the temperature turned up, cricket action across the Yarra Valley is certainly heating up.
With three tight games in DJ Strachan Shield, results have left things rather congested through the middle of the ladder, leaving a tantalising couple of one-day rounds to play out before the Christmas break.
Mount Evelyn has kept itself clear of the congestion, moving two games clear atop the ladder with a less-than-convincing win against a dogged Wandin outfit.
Wandin made the most of day one, posting a competitive 9/196 through some patient and disciplined batting.
They returned for day two with a similar focus with the ball.
Mount Evelyn has an explosive batting line up, so it was imperative that the Bulldogs struck early. That they did.
Mathew Herriot had both openers back in the sheds quickly, upping the ante on the undefeated visitors.
Mount Evelyn does tick the scoreboard over quickly and steadied with a quick partnership between Jon Williams and Gareth Fraser.
The wicket of Fraser with the score on 50 had the contest in the balance.
Mount Evelyn captain Kane Jones entered the fray, and with Williams continuing his patient innings, the pair quickly took the game away from the Bulldogs.
Jones in particular was devastating in a quick but brutal stay at the crease.
Jones would walk away with a score of 51 in a partnership of 73, but his wicket would reignite Wandin’s cause and put some nervous moments among his teammates.
Jon O’Donnell would come and go and with the score at 5/137, there was plenty left in this contest despite its frenetic pace.
The one constant in the middle was the figure of Jon Williams.
Despite some scratchy moments, each of these led to a refocus and a determination to see his team to victory.
That he did, remaining 66 not out.
With some support from Brad Jones (33) the Mounters would walk away with a hard-earned four-wicket victory.
Wandin will host Yarra Junction next weekend in a key clash between two teams locked together on the ladder.
Mount Evelyn will be keen to keep its undefeated record intact against a Healesville team that’s putting its hand up to return to finals cricket.
The Bloods had a significant victory against Warburton-Millgrove.
Warburton-Millgrove batted first last week and scratched around for a score of 163.
Old-school judges would rate that total well short of the mark, but in recent times a total of that size can seem a mile away, particularly if you lose a clump of wickets.
The home team held their nerve to chase down the total.
Emerging talent Max Minney was the star of the show, the foundations on which this successful chase was built.
His unbeaten half-century kept things in check for the Bloods.
He had plenty of willing partners across the journey, led by Dermott Fry with 37, as the home team closed out an important five-wicket victory.
The Bloods will be keen to put together another bold showing against Mount Evelyn.
Warburton-Millgrove on the other hand need to put this one behind them, and reset for a home clash against Seville.
Win and they keep themselves at the front of the chasing pack, lose and they may well find themselves outside the four for the first time in many years.
Seville missed a golden opportunity to close the gap on the rest of the competition.
Yarra Junction scrapped an acceptable but unthreatening total of 176 on day one, but did take the day’s honours by capturing two late wickets.
With two batsmen already in the sheds, Seville seemed to be behind the eight ball for much of the chase.
At no stage was the side out of the contest, right down to the last wicket, but at no time would they have felt like they controlled the chase.
Club president Rod Pearse led the chase with a hard-fought 46, but the Blues needed a significant partnership.
Five batsmen would score between 10 and 20. Just one needed to kick onto a score that resembled Pearse’s and the home team’s fortunes would’ve been considerably different.
Eagles captain Kevin Bomford (3/26) and Brad Nightingale (3/26), who added another wicket to his day-one tally, led in a consistent display from the bowlers who led their team to a tight 20-run victory.
Seville needs to start posting some wins as it is now in danger of losing touch with the battle for finals positions.
With two one-day games before Christmas, they need to win one if not both to stay in the race.
Yarra Junction continues to tick the boxes, and wins against Wandin and Warburton-Millgrove in the final two rounds before Christmas would enhance their standings before the whips start cracking.
DJ STRACHAN SHIELD
Mount Evelyn (J. Williams 66*, K. Jones 51, B. Jones 33, M. Herriot 4/62, A. Walker 2/31) d Wandin 9/196 (B. Edwards 86, R. Smith 35, D. Marshall 24, K. Jones 3/30, G. Fraser 2/44)
Healesville 5/166 (M. Minney 51*, D. Fry 37, A. Humphrey 2/47) d Warburton-Millgrove 10/163 (B. Lever 40, A. Humphrey 30, D. Senior 3/54, D. Ebbels 2/10, A. Hamer 2/14, J. McKenna 2/32)
Yarra Junction 10/176 (K. Bomford 48, M. Kocher, A. Cowan 27, A. Kay 3/18, D. Healy 2/35, L. Kay 2/48) d Seville 10/156 (R. Pearse 46, J. McInnes 19, B. Nightingale 3/26, K. Bomford 3/26)
RA FINGER TROPHY
Mount Evelyn 7/136 (M. Potter 49*, C. Williams 25, L. Chandler 3/31, S. Fawdry 2/9) d Wandin 10/128 (L. Sinnott 59*, M. Fawdry 29, T. Williams 3/41, R. Shepherd 2/24)
Seville 10/210 (K. Chawla 47, D. Wallace 49, D. Whelan 5/48, D. Olliffe 2/10) d Coldstream 185 (D. Oliffe 66, M. Beri 4/47, C. Laycock 4/48)
Gruyere District 10/188 (D. Hopkinson 60, R. Prouse 35, T. Gaskett 3/19, R. Foley 4/60) d Yarra Junction 10/100 (R. Turner 24, H. Relf 15*, M.Tilney 3/2, R. Prouse 4/28)
Woori Yallock 9/254 (D. Sharman 65, M. Dwyer 54, L. Winter-Annette 54, A. Jakubowicz 7/72) d Healesville 10/232 (G. Poynton 80, B. Wallace 42, L. English 34, C. Ferguson 3/39, M. White 2/27, L. Thomas 2/31)
Powelltown 5/257 (D. Anderl 51*, J. Long 41*, C. Voigt 2/16) d Launching Place 8/169 (A. Cope 52*, D van Eijk 32, B. Dunne 3/16)
Seville 1/109 (S. Sculthorpe 40, H. Byrne 37*, D. Knight 32*) d Wandin 9/108 (J. White 38, H. Lamont 20*, C. Tanner 2/14, N. Kumar 2/27)
Yarra Glen 10/124 (D. Brambilla 41, S. Beath 39, P. Healy 3/15, A. Robertson 2/39) d Hoddles Creek 10/107 (L. Rowe 27, S. Beath 3/21, R. Cowan 2/8)
Launching Place 5/231 (J. Birnie 82, M. McConnell 71, C. Ronalds 3/52) d Marysville 112 (J. Allan 23, L. Ronalds 18, C. Parker 3/8, A. Sequeira 2/21)
Yarra Junction 186 (L. Vandervlugt 38*, L. Smith 29, A. Paluso 2/26) d Wandin 99 (A. Paluso 27*, M.Oakley 18, B. Ganson 3/18, A. McGill 3/20)
Warburton Millgrove 10/143 (D. Haggar 75*, H. Wheeler 4/20, D. Sharp 2/6, A. Cummins 2/4) d Coldstream 10/113 (P. Harris 30, A. Cummins 28, H.J. Nelson 3/2, E. Crowley 3/13)
Seville 10/149 (E. Van Beek 43, J. Young 22, S. Dunne 21*, G. Finkemeyer 3/21, M. Oultram 2/1) d Mount Evelyn 10/141 (M. Oultram 60, D. Meades 33, J. Young 5/37, J. Delaney 2/11)
Coldstream/Mount Evelyn 92 (T. Noar 48, O. Simpson 2/6) vs Hoddles Creek 1/41
Seville 10/86 (E. Van Beek 20, H. Murphy 17, H. Smith 17, D. Fitzpatrick 3/2, J. Handersyde 2/5, M. Wallace 2/16, C. Nyco 2/19) vs Healesville 1/51 (M. Wallace 17, M. Thompson 15*)
Yarra Junction/Launching Place 10/114 (R. Foley 30, Z. Kneebone 30, L. Neale 2/6) vs Warburton-Millgrove
Launching Place 6/130 (X. Dunne 45*, L. Parker 27, E. Bradley 17, L. Dunne 15, T. Biddiscome 2/7) d Healesville 7/117 (T. Handasyde 28, D. English 20, L. Parker 2/12)
Warburton-Millgrove 3/127 (K. Wunhym 26*, P. Saurine 18*, D. Shambrock 1/5) d Yarra Glen Black 7/40 (L. Senti 17, T. Hunter 2/5, M. O’Neill 2/6, G. Collett 2/6)
Wandin 7/154 (J. Dixon 52x, J. Mann 29, L. Alderman 25, A. Beers 2/19, S. Bannerman 1/10) d Yarra Junction/Gruyere 5/87 (S. Bannerman 18*, H. Beers 10, J. Mann 3/2, J. Dixon 1/4, L. Alderman 1/5)