ROCHESTER United tuned up for a Goulburn Murray Cricket grand final rematch against Kyabram Fire Brigade next week with a strong seven-wicket win against Tongala on Saturday.
United, missing a number of key contributors from last season’s premiership-winning side, was back to some of its best with the ball, keeping Tongala to 8/119 from its 45 overs.
Jayden Tucker was Tonny’s most important batsman, holding strong as the wickets fell around him to make a fine 52.
The batting side at one stage was 2/93 and in a good position, but quickly lost 6/11 to lose its standing in the game.
The limiting United bowlers again suffocated the batsmen, keeping them to less than three runs an over to keep the total right down.
Grand final hero Sean Williams returned to the line-up and wasted little time making an impact with three crucial middle-order wickets to tear the heart out of the batting side.
United skipper Tim Bubb said Williams’ return had been brilliant for the side.
‘‘Sean bowled really well for his 3/11, and three of those runs were wides so there weren’t many runs coming off the bat,’’ he said.
‘‘He found some really good areas and he was very hard to score against.
‘‘Tonny was in a pretty good position and one point but we kept bowling in the same areas and we were confident the wickets would fall.’’
With the bat, United lost Bubb (2) cheaply but import Jordan Garrett continued his great start at the club with 46 to back up last week’s half-century.
Batting at number three, Williams’ unbeaten 35 guided United past the total with nearly ten overs and seven wickets to spare.
Bubb said the batting had been great, but was particularly impressed by Garrett’s 46 to keep the side comfortably in a winning position.
He added next week’s clash with Kyabram Fire Brigade would be a tough one.
‘‘I think they’re the benchmark this season, them and Moama look to have improved,’’ Bubb said.
‘‘We’re up against it with a few guys out, but it’s a really good challenge, particularly for the guys that didn’t play in last year’s grand final. They’ll get a look at what it takes to match it with a top A grade side.’’
United has opened the season without league-leading bowling Dylan Cuttriss, who broke his hand late in the football season.
It also played the round two clash without Jake Perry, Gareth Oakley and Corey Windridge.
■ROCHESTER Tigers have fallen to Kyabram Fire Brigade in other round two action by 38 runs at Kyabram’s Northern Oval.
After winning the toss and batting, the dangerous Flames’ batting lineup was under pressure at times and could only post a total of 155, bowled out in 41 overs.
They were saved by Henry Charlton’s 32, as well an important 41 from Damian Atkins, crucial in building a defendable target after coming to the crease at 5/87.
Tigers’ captain Jake Wright was the pick of the bowlers with 4/19 from nine overs, fellow opening bowler Adam Ward also coming up with tidy figures of 2/25.
The Tigers’ top five batsmen all got out of single figures but none could go on with the job and guide them to the win.
Wright came closest to doing so with 27 but the steady loss of wickets meant they were always up against it, eventually falling 38 runs short.
The Tigers remain in the top four and have a good chance to bounce back this weekend against Bamawm-Lockington United.
BLU fell to Moama on Saturday but not before a brilliant fight, getting within 15 runs of chasing down a big total of 8/227.