Bellbridge was on the brink of disaster until a final session fight-back left its battle with Melton Centrals hanging in the balance in a blockbuster at Mossfiel Reserve on Saturday.
The Bridge, leaders of the Williamstown and District Cricket Association A turf ladder after five rounds, was reeling at 8-75 before the tailend batsmen pulled a rabbit out of a hat to improve the score to a defendable 159.
The Bridge’s day got even better with Centrals having to face six overs before stumps and stumbling to be 2-7 in reply.
As Bridge president Mark Croswell said, no batsmen wants to come out with six overs to go in the day.
“It’s a tricky little period – we were lucky to get both openers,” he said. “It puts pressure on everyone else who will need to make the runs for them.
“It’s game on next week … we’ve got to make sure we get a couple of early breakthroughs and hopefully break the game wide open.
“As long as we can take our chances next week, we’ll be right in it.”
Bellbridge’s lack of application with the bat earlier in the day threatened to unravel its innings.
The Bridge lost wickets in clumps and struggled for continuity.
The only resistance offered in the top order came through Dave Henderson, who dug in to make 37 and frustrate the Centrals bowlers.
“He was out there for at least 35 to 40 overs and really held it together for us,” Croswell said.
“He was very patient and waited for that bad ball to hit. It was good to see at least one of the batsmen apply themselves.”
The bulk of Bellbridge’s runs came through the most unlikely sources.
Scott Walker made 20 at No.8 and was part of a 39-run stand with Andrew Wilks (34no). Then Wilks featured in a 45-run partnership with Croswell (27).
“The top-order batsmen just didn’t really fire,” Croswell said.
“We had one batsman make runs but the rest of them just didn’t go on and failed to take some opportunities.
“So those last two partnerships were vital to put us on to a stage where we had at least a competitive total.”
In A-grade matting, Glen Orden posted 7-236 against Deer Park, which was 0-10 in reply.
Williams Landing could scrounge out only 135 against Melton Centrals, while Truganina will need 198 for victory over Sunshine United.
In B-grade matting, Tarneit requires a further 113 for victory over Caroline Springs with nine wickets in hand.