The Deni Rhinos Division One side’s finals hopes have been dashed, following a 111-run loss to Nathalia on Saturday.
Travelling to Nathalia for the round 16 clash, the Rhinos were in a must-win situation to keep their slim chance of a finals appearance alive.
Rhinos captain Jack Tonta said it was a disappointing performance with the bat that cost his side.
‘‘We were unlucky to lose Blake Mantle (out of the side) on Friday night due to work commitments, and due to unfortunate family circumstances we lost Chris Pyle who had to pull out of the side half way to Nathalia,’’ Tonta said.
‘‘Under 14s players Lachie Holloway and Ryan Rotherham fielded for us when we bowled, which we were grateful for.
‘‘Unfortunately with our batting we crumbled at the top of the order and the damage was done.
‘‘Chris Baines (17), Ben Irwin (11) and Phil Rotherham (13 not out) got us past true embarrassment with the bat.
‘‘We’re a bit unlucky to not be playing finals but we just weren’t there every game this year.
‘‘Hopefully we can get two more wins on the board and finish the season on a high.’’
With the chance of cementing a finals place, the Purples came out firing after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Openers Jackson Walpole (20) and Adam Zammit (11) started well before medium pace bowler Chris Baines struck in the sixth over, with Walpole caught behind to have the Purples 1/24.
Baines continued to be dangerous with the ball, claiming the wickets of Zammit and Tom Byrnes (2) in the 10th over, with the Rhinos in control at 3/37.
Tim Hillier continued the trend for the Rhinos trapping Harrison Hawks (one) in front just seven runs later in the 13th over.
Nathalia turned their fortunes around, with Ned Nihill (20) joining Bailey Bell (52) for an impressive 69-run partnership, with the home side sitting at 6/120 after the pair were both dismissed.
Strong tail-end performances from Brent Smith (17), Phill Carroll (18) and Clancy Congues (18 not out) steered Nathalia to a strong score of 8/175 after 40 overs.
In reply the Rhinos struggled, losing four wickets for 18 runs within the first 13 overs.
Baines and Phil Rotherham combined for a 19-run partnership before the former was caught and bowled by Smith (1/11) in the 18th over.
Irwin joined Rotherham at the crease for a 22-run stand before Irwin was bowled by Sean Zammit (2/3) in the 27th over.
The Purples charged to victory, claiming the remaining three wickets for five runs, with the Rhinos all out for 64 after 29.4 overs.
‘‘We started well with the ball again with Bainesy and Ben (Irwin), but the pressure came off a bit later in our bowling innings,’’ Tonta said.
‘‘A few partnerships formed and Nathalia scored at a steady rate on what was a pretty flat pitch.’’
The Rhinos host bottom of the ladder Strathmerton this Saturday.
The Rhinos Under 14s side suffered their second loss of the season, going down to an undefeated Cobram in Cobram in the final home and away round on Saturday morning.
Playing a 20 over fixture, the Rhinos could only manage a score of 45 from their allotted 20 overs with opener Charlie Hillier (22) the only batsman to score double figures.
In reply the Tigers scored 6/57, with Hugh Hyde retiring not out on 21 helping steer his side to a four wicket victory after 19.3 overs.
The Rhinos had six wicket takers with one each to Charlie Hillier, Kai Hillier, Lachie Holloway, Ryan Rotherham, Dom Read and Noah Bradley.
Despite the loss, the Rhinos still finished second on the ladder.
They will now host Nathalia in the semi final this weekend, with the winner moving on to the grand final.