An undermanned Deni Rhinos Division One side put up a good fight against Katunga, falling just 22 runs short of the Murray Valley Cricket ladder leader in Katunga on Saturday.
The Rhinos won the toss and chose to bat first with veteran Phil Rotherham (3) and Kyle Ives (0) opening the batting.
The pair were quickly dismissed bringing Tim Hiller and Jack Tonta to the crease with the Rhinos 2/5.
Hillier (14) and Tonta (11) combined for 23 runs but both lost their wicket in quick succession, leaving the Rhinos struggling at 4/31 in the 40-over match.
Rob Heane made his way to the middle to rejuvenate the Rhinos’ batting, teaming with Harry Hillier (7) and Ben Irwin (11).
Heane’s innings-saving knock included five fours and a six before he fell one run short of his half century, caught out in the 35th over with the Rhinos now better placed at 6/109.
After nine wickets had fallen at the end of 38 overs, the Rhinos decided to declare their innings at 115 runs with Mitch Jefferies (6 n.o) and 12 year-old Charlie Hillier not batting.
Tim Hillier, Charlie’s father, said the team decided it was best not to have the youngster facing up against some strong bowlers.
‘‘We named Charlie to play because we were short and we mainly wanted him so we could field 11 when we were bowling,’’ Tim said.
‘‘He fielded well in the end so we were all pretty proud of him.
‘‘Andrew Holloway also filled in for us after being retired from cricket for seven years.
‘‘It’s fantastic to have people put their hands up to help us out so we can play.’’
Katunga’s run chase started strongly with Brad Tweed (42) and Kevin Vandengoor (30) scoring patiently to reach 69 runs before Tweed was dismissed by Rotherham (1/14 off eight).
Spencer Small came to the crease, helping the Swans pass the Rhinos’ total in the 37th over, with an unbeaten 34 runs.
Tim Hillier returned strong figures of 4/26 off seven overs, with Heane the other wicket taker with 1/20 off eight.
‘‘We were pretty proud of our performance,’’ Hillier said.
‘‘To be missing about five or six blokes and come close to the top of the ladder team was a tremendous effort.’’
Deni Rhinos’ Under 14s made a strong start in their first Murray Valley Cricket season match, posting a 41-run win over Tocumwal at Memorial Park on Saturday.
The young Rhinos restricted Tocumwal to 3/43 at the end of their allotted 20 overs, with excellent line and length bowling by Charlie Hiller, who took an impressive 1/0 from his three overs.
Pat Westcott (1/0 off two), Lachy Holloway (1/6 off two) and Tom Bradley (0/2 off three) also bowled well with some tight spells.
The home side followed this up with a strong batting performance, surpassing the Bloods’ total after 10 overs.
The Rhinos continued to bat out the remaining overs, finishing at 2/84 after 20 overs.
Top scorers for the Rhinos were Kai Hiller (23), Charlie Hillier (20) and Jack Richards (20), with all three retiring not out.