By Nick Creely
It’s not unusual to see a century next to Steven Spoljaric’s name on the scoreboard – but when the century comes off just 41 balls, it makes it one of his specials.
The legendary DDCA all-rounder played a breathtaking knock for Springvale South in their high scoring victory over Dingley at Alex Nelson Reserve last Wednesday night, finishing on an incredible 108 off just 44 balls, a knock that featured 88 runs purely in boundaries (with 10 sixes).
It is his first century as a Blood, and he is showing now signs of slowing down.
The Bloods were also well served by Dandenong champion Brett Forsyth, who also slapped 76 off 56 balls to guide the home side to an incredible 3/232 off their allotted 20 overs.
Dingley’s bowlers found the going tough, with Christo Otto (0/68) in particularly feeling the wrath of Spoljaric’s blade.
The Dingoes left absolutely no stone unturned in their pursuit of the mighty total, finishing on 7/195 after a strong cameo at the top by Matt Hague (33) and Jackson O’Brien (68).
Andrew Staude (2/33) and Tim Ford (2/33) were the pick of the bowlers in a match with a total aggregate of 10/427.
But it’s through to yet another semi-final for the all-conquering Bloods, who won two of the last four Twenty20 tournaments.
It took another match winning performance down at Arch Brown Reserve to guide Berwick into the semis, in what turned out to be a comfortable victory over North Dandenong.
The Bears entered the clash as warm favorites, with the powerhouse side in top notch form in the short form of the game.
After winning the toss and having a bat, the Bears lost in form duo Jordan Cleland (2) and Nathan Pilon (15) early in the piece to be 2/24.
Jarrod Armitage (23) – coming in at number three – cracked some early boundaries to swing the momentum back the Bears’ way, but a triple strike to gun recruit Asfan Thajudeen (3/29), which included the prized scalp of Matt Chasemore (8), had the home side on the ropes at 5/64.
Enter St Kilda paceman Blade Baxter, who rode a wave of momentum to punish the Maroons with a quick fire 48 not out, combining with Cory Bevan (17 not out) at number 10 to finish with a flurry.
The Bears finished on 8/145, a terrific score considering the loss of key wickets early.
Syed Mehmood (23) and Sanjeewa De Silva (32) got the Maroons off to a tailor made start, before reliable skipper Jarrod Goodes (2/29) broke through to claim the wicket of Mehmood.
From 0/36, the Maroons were skittled for just 97, with Baxter (3/19) once again the key man, with his relentless lines to much for the visitors to handle.
Bevan (2/7), Will Carr (1/22) and James Wilcock (1/3) also picked up wickets in the thumping victory.
Heinz Southern Districts also advanced through with a crushing victory over a gallant St Brigid’s/St Louis, who can hold their heads high after an outstanding campaign.
Kaushyla Weeraratne (84) was the star of the show for the Cobras, guiding the home side to a match winning 6/181.
The visitors were unable to gather enough momentum to be a genuine chance at a victory, with Patrick Jamieson (37) the only player to get going with the blade.
Lee Brown (2/20) was terrific with the ball for the Cobras, who continue to go under the radar and get the job done.
In the final night of the match, Buckley Ridges did enough to hold off Mordialloc at Park Oval, with the Bucks continuing their red hot form in the Twenty20 format.
The Bucks had winners all over the park, with Susantha Pradeep (48), Greg Todd (57), Rajitha Jayathunga (34) and Daniel Watson (28) all piling on the runs to finish on 195.
Bloodhounds quick Dylan Campbell (4/40) was outstanding for the visitors.
Despite some outstanding bowling early by the Bucks – in particular by Lukas Hoogenboom (4/13) – who had the Bloodhounds 4/34, Ryan Morris (48) played a brilliant cameo to give his side a shot at a stunning win.
But the Bloodhounds fell short, to end on 9/168 off their 20 overs.
Berwick, Buckley Ridges, Heinz Southern Districts and Springvale South will play off for a spot in the grand final on 31 January.