Boom off-season signing Matthew Mitchell leads the charge as the A-Team belt perennial rivals Old Xavier at Scotch by 122 runs to go into the last round full of running, while the Celebrities splutter in their run chase at Barkers Road in scenes eerily reminiscent of last years Semi Final to record a pulsating tie that has slowed down the Celebrities' late season finals charge.
Back in the First World War, Aussie soldiers indulged in their favourite game of two-up whenever the opportunity arose. Old Scotch skipper Mattie Grose would have made a small fortune those days if his recent habit of winning the toss is any indication of his seemingly supernatural ability to call correctly. The Old Xaverian skipper stood no chance as Grose called correctly, and elected to bat.
Superstar Matt Mitchell and the always suave Seb Armstrong, continued their good form at the top of the order, Armstrong piled on a belligerent 24 in the opening partnership of 37. Mitchell went on to compile a masterly 67, while Sam Shearer was back to his dynamic best with a splendid 48. Hosking with 22 and Sam "Junior" Murray with 34, rounded out the even performances, as the A-Team compiled 8 for 232.
With the ball, the Scotchies ripped apart the Old Xavs line up with Shearer again a star with 3 for 18 and Will Hays with 3 for 33 and the old war horse Gary Bennett with two to skittle Old Xavs for 110 and record a crushing victory over the great rivals by 122 runs.
The Celebrities were also locked in bitter combat with Old Xavs in their MCC 2nd Division match up out at Barkers Road. In recent times, Barkers Road has been a happy hunting ground for Old Scotch teams, with some great wins there. But, Xavs can never be underestimated, as last years 2nd Semi Final saw the rank underdogs pulled off a freak 4 run win against the odds, when logic dictated that the Celebrities were cruising to victory.
This game followed a remarkably similar course. Old Xavs won the toss and elected to bat, with the Celebrities bowling group bowling exceedingly well to limit the Xavs to 7 for 157, with Will "Shot Gun" Meggitt capturing 2 for 27. The chase seemed to be going rather well, with big Will Clarke compiling a masterly 73 and Mark "Money Shot" Griffiths 31. On the last ball, the Celebrities required three to win, and the Xavs merely had to restrict the Old Scotch batsman to win the game. In the end, a 2 was taken tying up the scores, and both teams sharing the points.
This weekend the last round will be played out with all sorts of permutations in play. For the A-Team, it provides and opportunity to tune up for the finals the following week as top spot has been parcelled up. They take on Melbourne Uni at home on Sunday. For the Celebrities, and bonus point victory could see them sneak into the finals. Difficult, but not impossible. They will be down at Geelong Grammar this Saturday looking to make it all happen.
Get on down and support the lads. In the mean time...