Essendon sneaks into finals in last matchup

THE final round of the Victorian Men’s Premier Cricket League took place over the weekend, as the season concluded for a number of the teams in the competition. Heading into this weekend’s action, the top-eight was far from decided, despite being on the eve of finals. There were a few matchups that were set to shape the upcoming postseason, and that is exactly what ended up happening, with the board shuffling quite a bit to wrap up what has been a terrific 2021/22 season.

Essendon (8/193) def. Melbourne University (116)

In arguably the most crucial clash of the round, Essendon was able to claim the final spot inside the top-eight and secure a place in the finals with a 77-run triumph over Melbourne University at Windy Hill on Saturday. The most likely scenario heading into this matchup was that the victor would take Northcote’s spot in eighth place, and this ended up happening in the end.

Essendon were sent out to the crease first, with Melbourne University backing their ability to get off to a strong start with ball in hand. However, the home side was up to the task, with their opening partnership producing 43 runs before being broken when Melbourne University claimed a pair of wickets in quick succession. Essendon were given a major boost when top-order batsman Michael Hill got on a roll with bat in hand, reaching a half-century in no time at all. His 64-run effort (off just 76 balls too if you don’t mind) ended up being the most crucial of the innings, guiding his side to a defendable total of 193 by the time the 50th over concluded.

The second innings started in fantastic fashion from an Essendon standpoint, with two Melbourne University batsmen dismissed in the same over, thanks to a pair of ripping deliveries from Thomas O’Donnell. Suddenly, the visiting side found themselves on the back foot, with their total sitting at 4/18 in the midst of a serious collapse. They found some hope when the middle and back order of their batting lineup provided a spark to boost their score. However, the damage was done by this point, as their season came to a disappointing close.

Around the grounds …

As mentioned above, much of the standings relied on Northcote’s clash against Footscray at Bill Lawry Oval on Saturday afternoon. The home side entered this round in eighth spot, but came in against a higher-seeded opponent here, and as expected, Footscray was able to get the job done, albeit in tense fashion, as they reached the total with just three overs in hand.

One of Australia’s brightest cricket talents has led his side to a terrific win as Melbourne took down the Camberwell Magpies to the tune of five wickets at Camberwell Sports Ground on Saturday. With the Magpies batting first and setting a decent total of 177 runs (thanks to three players scoring at least 35 runs), the visiting side would need someone to step up, and that someone ended up being Will Pucovski, who notched up a game-high 73 runs as his team managed to chase down the required score.

Despite a bit of a scare, Casey-South Melbourne managed to get the win in their clash against Fitzroy Doncaster at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon. Batting first, the home side set a whopping score of 253, thanks to their top three batsmen passing the half-century mark. Despite the tough task ahead, Fitzroy Doncaster managed to push the game to the final few overs, but fell 18 runs short of claiming the upset.

Geelong was able to return to its high-scoring ways in the win over Frankston Peninsula at Geelong Cricket Ground on Saturday. The home side made things difficult for its opponents by setting the total at 243 runs, with Liam Blackford with a 97-run effort. This proved to be too much for Frankston Peninsula, who could only manage 208 runs themselves.

Dandenong was able to close out its season in style, taking down the Greenvale Kangaroos by a whopping 165 runs in their clash at Greenvale Reserve on Saturday afternoon. Each of Dandenong’s top three batsmen scored at least 66 runs each, giving their score a massive boost that proved to be too challenging for the Kangaroos in the end.

St Kilda will be heading into the upcoming finals serious with some serious momentum after taking down Ringwood to the tune of 25 runs at Russell Lucas Oval on Saturday. The home side faced a difficult assignment in slowing down the ladder-leaders, and they could not manage an upset to conclude their 2021/22 campaign, as St Kilda ended up proving too strong.

In a thrilling encounter, Prahran was able to claim a tense win over Kingston Hawthorn when the two sides locked horns at Walter Galt Reserve on Saturday afternoon. In the final match of the season for both sides, Kingston Hawthorn set the bar quite high when they were able to notch a score of 246 runs from their 50 overs. However, this was not enough as Prahran got the job done in the 49th over.

The final match of the round saw Carlton finish the home-and-away season in style, taking down Richmond by two wickets at Princes Park on Saturday. Richmond’s total of 172 proved to be no challenge for Carlton, as the home side got the job done in just 41 overs as they now look towards the upcoming postseason.

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