IT might be early in the Goulburn Murray Cricket season, but Rochester United is continuing to show form making it the red-hot favourite for a third straight flag.
A great performance with the bat set up a fifth win for the season on Saturday, Stanhope no match as United continued an undefeated start to the campaign.
Captain Tim Bubb was thrilled his side had wasted little time establishing itself as a competition front-runner.
‘‘I’m absolutely rapt with the start. I definitely didn’t think we’d be 5-0 with quite a few key players missing,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re starting to get our best side in and it’s a great position to be in. We’re not planning on dropping games, but even if we do have a bad game we’ve got wins in the bank.’’
United won the toss and batted, its reliable top four bats delivering as expected with Corey Windridge (34) and Jordan Garrett (33) getting a strong start.
Both fell with the score on 77, but it brought Bubb and Sean Williams to the crease, the pair untroubled by the Stanhope bowlers in an 81-run partnership.
Williams went first for 41 before Bubb was bowled by Alex Heaton for 58, his highest score of the season. Brodan Evans (8*) and Dylan Cuttriss (10*) added some late runs to take the score to 4/203 from 45 overs.
Bubb was impressed with the complete batting performance, adding import Garrett’s impact at the top of the order had been superb. The Englishman hasn’t failed once in five games, with 241 runs at an average of 48.2.
‘‘Jordan is great up the top, he’s a super player and he’s getting us a good start most weeks,’’ Bubb said.
‘‘It’s crucial to deal with the new ball and he’s getting through it every week, and scores at a good rate as well meaning we don’t have problems with the run-rate.’’
Stanhope needed a strong start if it was to chase down the target, and disaster struck early with Daryl Harrison run out for 14, the score 1/18.
The wickets tumbled with regularity meaning it couldn’t put together partnerships, Mark McFarlane the architect with the ball with 4/25.
He had the key wickets of Brian Cowie (18), Matthew Evans (19) and Stanhope captain Michael Coad (4), but it was the tidy bowling of the entire side that built the pressure as the batsmen slipped further behind the required run rate. Stanhope was eventually bowled out for 117 in 42.4 overs.
United remained on top of the ladder as the only undefeated team after five rounds.
■A GUTSY half-century from Brendan Prendergast has sent the Rochester Tigers to a second-straight defeat at home on Saturday.
Echuca was in some trouble at 2/39 when he came to the crease, the experienced batsman staying strong as wickets fell around him to make 56 and guide his side to a competitive total of 7/148.
Adam Ward, Brandon Byrne and Fraser Cleary each took two wickets, every bowler economical to keep the total within reach.
Tigers’ top-order batsmen Kevin Gillin (22), Mitch Crawford (11) and Byrne (12) all made starts but couldn’t go on with the job, before young Echuca bowler Mitch Frew came up with the vital wickets of Jake Wright (9) and Adam Ward (5).
At 5/62 the Tigers were in trouble and couldn’t find the answers. Richard Forrest’s 23 was not enough as they were bowled out for 109 in 38.3 overs.
Seven of eight Echuca bowlers took a wicket in a strong team performance.
Tigers’ president Ray George was disappointed with the side’s recent results, but said things were looking up for the club.
‘‘It’s a bit unfortunate really. We had Kyabram on toast and didn’t win and we should have beaten Echuca but our batting was poor,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got a good side on paper but we’re not producing like we should, and we’re probably one x-factor player short.
‘‘But it’s been a lot better than last season and we’re coming along well. Our other grades have been quite competitive too where last year they weren’t doing so well.’’