A winner for the top of the table clash between the Deni Rhinos and Cobram remains up in the air after an evenly battled day one on Saturday.
After losing the toss and the visitors choosing to bat, the Rhinos bowled well on their home deck to have the Tigers all out for 157 after 67 overs.
The visitors managed two early breakthroughs in the remaining 13 overs of the day, with the Rhinos set to resume on day two at 2/19.
It was Andrew Hogan who again led the way with the ball, taking 4/35 off his 18 overs, while Liam Pitts took some crucial wickets late in the game to finish 3/13 off four.
Rhinos skipper Brad Todd continued his brilliant bowling form, with five maidens from his nine overs to finish with figures of 2/10.
Todd said the game ‘‘is in the balance at the moment’’ as his side eyes top spot of the ladder.
‘‘We need to consolidate the first couple of partnerships next week to give us a good chance of getting first innings points,’’ he said.
‘‘We started really well with the ball, even though there was some sleeting rain about.
‘‘It’s probably the tightest we have been with the ball all year from the start.
‘‘We thought we had Ewald Roberts plumb LBW off Hoges’ first ball of the game but unfortunately it wasn’t given out.
‘‘But we kept it tight and the pressure built to force a couple of rash shots from their top five.
‘‘We were looking at a total of 200-plus at one stage, so to keep them to 157 was fantastic, although we will need to bat well this weekend to reach that target.’’
The match kicked off with the dangerous South African pair of Roberts and Wian Van Zyl in the middle of the Memorial Park pitch.
The duo — who had scored a combined total of 1028 runs before the match — looked unsettled early, with Hogan putting the pressure on.
After pushing the score to 22 runs, eight of which were extras, Roberts (nine) was trapped in front LBW by Hogan.
Just three runs later, Manny Artavilla was caught for a duck, to be Hogan’s second victim.
The Rhinos continued to charge with Van Zyl (seven) caught off the bowling of Todd and when Tyron Baden (two) was dismissed, Cobram were struggling at 4/28.
Adam Decicco (79) and Jordan Daniel (20) saved the Tigers’ inning with an outstanding 70 run partnership before the latter was dismissed.
Izac Artavilla was dismissed for a duck, bringing Lewis McShane to the crease when Cobram were 6/100.
McShane (21) put together a 57 run partnership with Decicco, before the Rhinos finally claimed the latter’s wicket, bowled by Ben Irwin (1/12 off five).
This started a collapse for the Tigers, with Pitts taking the remaining wickets in the following over with the tail-end unable to add a score.
Todd said Decicco’s performance was a match-saver.
‘‘He (Decicco) can play, he showed how to play on our wicket,’’ he said.
‘‘He just waited for the bad ball early and then worked it around until he played some more shots further into his innings.
‘‘If our next few batsmen can take a leaf out of his book it will give us a great chance of a win next week.
‘‘Hoges (Hogan) has been bowling well in the two day games, he had a couple of spells on Saturday and with his second spell he broke their biggest partnership of the game.’’
In response the Rhinos lost two early wickets of Dean Edge (one) and Brenton Loudon (five), with Angus Campbell (two not out) and night-watchman Irwin (10 not out) helping their side to 2/19 at stumps.
‘‘We were discussing the batting order during the innings changeover and it came up that Ben (Irwin) would be perfect for the role (of night-watchman) if we lost a couple of wickets.
’’If he can continue playing like he did on Saturday hopefully he can push on and get a score for us.
‘‘After the close of play a couple of the boys have made reference to nickname ‘Dizzy’.’’ This refers to the double century scored by Australian cricketer Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie when he came in as a night watchman against Bangladesh.
Day two of the clash will be played at Memorial Park on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Rhinos’ Division One and Division Two sides, their games were abandoned due to the pitch conditions after the rain at Memorial Park’s main oval.
Division One will return to action when they host Berrigan this Saturday, while Division Two will travel to Katunga.