Both of North Alphington's senior teams received boosts to their finals hopes thanks to strong individual bowling efforts, with six wickets from Liam Hogan firing the first XI into the top two and a five-wicket haul for Ollie Gyomber pushing the second XI into the top four ahead of a crucial last round showdown with fifth-placed Hartley.
1st XI: North Alphington 159-6 (D Sonnberg 41, I Prestney 38, O Price 36*) def Notting Hill-Brandon Park 130 (L Hogan 6-18, O Price 2-23, N Obst 1-18, L Waters 1-23) by 29 runs at Columbia Park.
With 20 overs to go North Alphington’s first XI were locked in a tight battle with table-topping Notting Hill-Brandon Park, but a blistering spell of 6-18 from Liam Hogan blew the hosts away and set up a crucial victory.
Chasing 159, Notting Hill-Brandon Park started aggressively, but important wickets to Luke Waters and Ollie Price slowed their early momentum. A strong fightback, however, saw the hosts well-placed at 81-3 when Hogan entered the attack and broke the 43-run fourth wicket stand. Two more wickets followed in his second over, and a further two breakthroughs left him with the remarkable figures of five wickets in three overs without the concession of a run. Hogan’s sixth wicket left Notting Hill-Brandon Park sitting at 97-9, and although the last wicket pair were able to add 33 to create some slightly nervous moments, North Alphington were able to close out a 29-run win.
Earlier, North Alphington did well to put a strong target on the board after losing two wickets in the first two overs of the match. The recovery was driven by a 78-run partnership between Dean Sonnberg and Isaac Prestney, who steadied the ship while playing enough good shots to keep the runs flowing. Their dismissals allowed Notting Hill-Brandon Park to take control and the run rate slowed, but an unbeaten 40-run partnership between Ollie Price and Mohsin Khan pushed the score past 150 in the final overs.
In the end, it was a confidence-boosting win for North Alphington ahead of a hotly-contested premiership race, and allowed the first XI to move into the top two with one round of the regular season still to play.
2nd XI: North Alphington 119-4 (D Bell 46 ret, D Rowland 22, M Mudge 18, R Lewis 10*) def Balwyn Saints 118-9 (O Gyomber 5-18, L Edwards 2-21, M Mudge 1-21) by six wickets at Pitcher Park.
A remarkable spell of legspin bowling by Ollie Gyomber has propelled North Alphington’s Second XI into a virtual elimination final showdown this weekend.
Gyomber’s personal best figures of 5-18 off eight overs on Saturday tore through the top order of LOC3 bottom side Balwyn Saints and left NACC with a comfortable run chase which it achieved with just four wickets down and seven overs to spare. Gyomber bowled hardly a bad ball in eight straight overs from the northern end and was backed up well in the field.
The win means NACC now faces fellow finals contender Hartley away this Saturday with the winner through to the finals and the loser missing out.
Others starring with the ball against the Saints included veteran David Horne, whose eight overs for 13 were basically unplayable; Lachie Edwards, who found his rhythm nicely and grabbed two scalps; and Max Mudge, with a wicket of his own, a catch well taken by Richard Lewis.
In reply NACC was a little shaky at 2-13 before solid batting by skipper David Bell, opener Darcy Rowland and No.5 Max Mudge steered the ship to safety.
Not only could NACC sew up a finals spot this Saturday, they could also sneak into third spot if other results are favourable, thus avoiding LOC3 pacemaker AYC Harlequins in the first week of finals.