By Luke Voogt
Paceman Brody Couch’s four-wicket haul and Eamonn Vines’ 90 runs were not enough to get Geelong the victory against reigning premiers Melbourne on Saturday.
Geelong won the toss and sent in the star-studded Melbourne side featuring several Big Bash League players.
The Demons started well with Melbourne Renegades keeper Sam Harper and Blake Thomson putting on 85 for the first wicket.
Leg-spinner Tom O’Connell made the much-needed breakthrough when Harper looped a pull shot to Josh Larkin on the boundary.
Left-arm finger spinner Hayden Butterworth struck next when Melbourne Stars player Seb Gotch attempted a big off drive on 6.
Couch, who spent a few months on the Renegades squad without playing, bowled Thomson for 74 with the Demons now at 3/145.
Dom McGlinchey snared Renegade Cameron White on 34 (4/195) while fellow paceman Josh Garner dismissed Campbell Kellaway for 5 (5/200).
Couch dismissed Fergus O’Neill caught behind to put the pressure back on the Demons at 6/216.
But Renegade Jack Prestwidge’s run-a-ball 47 helped Melbourne to 239 before he skyed O’Connell to Larkin at deep midwicket.
The Demons made it to 252 before losing their last three wickets for just one run, with Couch picking another two.
O’Connell ran out number 11 Glenn Hannah with a direct hit in the last over, despite having little more than one stump to aim at.
In response Geelong lost Butterworth early for a duck followed by Josh McDonald for 2, putting the Cats under pressure at 2/7.
Vines and Tom Jackson fought back, getting the Cats to 71 before Jackson was bowled for 26 attempting to reverse sweep South African leg spinner Kyle Williamson.
Vines continued his stand alongside Gus Boyd, who made 44 before Harper stumped him off Williamson (4/176).
Williamson also bowled Vines on 90, just 10 runs short of his second consecutive century with the Cats on 187.
The Cats managed just 26 for the next five wickets, falling 40 runs short on 213.
Geelong remains in the top eight despite the loss, two games ahead of ninth-placed Ringwood.
The Cats have an excellent chance to rebound on Saturday at home against Camberwell Magpies, who have won only two games this season.
Meanwhile, in the GCA firsts, East Belmont opener Sean O’Neill hit his third century of the season helping his side (205) to a thrilling six-run victory over Newtown-Chilwell (199).
Lara, North Geelong, Highton and Grovedale also picked up wins. North Geelong sits atop the ladder followed by Lara, South Barwon and East Belmont.
In the seconds Newtown-Chilwell’s Darren Fleet was expensive but impactful, taking 5/59 off nine overs in his side’s eight-wicket win against East Belmont.
Highton, North Geelong, Lara and Grovedale also won.
Ladder leader Grovedale is three games ahead of East Belmont, followed by North Geelong and Highton.
In the thirds Newtown-Chilwell, St Joseph’s, North Geelong, Leopold and Murgheboluc were victorious.
North Geelong leads the ladder, followed by South Barwon, St Joseph’s and Newtown-Chilwell.