By Justin Flynn
A mammoth run chase, spearheaded by opener Paddy McKenna, kept Newtown & Chilwell’s Geelong Cricket Association finals hopes flickering on Saturday February 10.
Needing 338 for victory against South Barwon at Reynolds Oval, the Two Blues made easy work of the chase, reaching the target with the loss of only three wickets from 77 overs.
A logjam from third to seventh on the ladder means only one win separates five sides for the final two spots in the four.
The Two Blues are seventh and will need two wins and a lot of things to go their way to make it, but the run chase against South Barwon has given the side a lot of confidence.
The star of the show was McKenna, who made 141 not out from 231 deliveries that included 15 boundaries and five sixes.
It was McKenna’s second hundred of the season.
“It’s funny, I don’t think I ever felt super comfortable, which is weird,” he said.
“Against Grovedale I got a hundred a few weeks ago and I honestly felt like I could bat for five days. I know it probably wasn’t the prettiest 140. My wagon wheel wouldn’t have been great. It would have had a few balls through the slips cordon, but I just sweated on some short stuff.”
Despite the massive job ahead at the start of day two, McKenna said the side felt reasonably confident providing there were wickets in hand.
Tyson Windus chipped in with 39 and then English import Ronnie McKenna shared another century partnership with his namesake with a delightful 72 from 103 balls.
“We share the same last name, but we’re about 20 years difference in age so the boys think we’re like father and son,” McKenna said.
“The great thing about Ronnie is he’s our best batter and a class player, so even leading into tea we were going at four an over. They had 15 overs of tight bowling, but you know when Ronnie’s out there, at any point he can take five overs for 50.”
Noah Guida then came in and smacked an unbeaten 48-ball 60 to help bring up the win.
South Barwon took the second new ball, which McKenna said may have helped the Two Blues with a few more gaps on a deck that is “as flat as we’ve got in Geelong at the moment”.
“I was just pushing a single to get up the other end, and Noah sort of took control of the game,” he said.
“And I think because you can’t take the new ball and not have a slip and a gully it opens up one or two more gaps.
“Our mentality as a group was you can’t win it in the first 20 or even 40 overs, you can only lose it. So it was really just bat to tea and then reassess the situation and just try and keep wickets in the shed.”
EAST BELMONT secured a top two finish with a four-wicket win against Grovedale. Josh Lacey (66 not out) and skipper Shane McNamara (57) helped get their side to 6/186 in pursuit of the Tigers’ 183 all out.
NORTH GEELONG is all but assured of the minor premiership after defeating Lara by 113 runs. Paceman Dale Kerr ripped through the Lara batting line-up to take 7/31 from 16.5 overs while Tom Mathieson was miserly as always with 2/14 from 14. Lara was all out for 93 in response to the Magpies’ 206.
ST JOSEPH’S successfully chased down Highton’s 94 all out with the loss of five wickets despite a sprinkler malfunction that saw McDonald Reserve drenched early Saturday morning. When play was able to resume three quick wickets from Errol Burns gave Highton some hope, but in the end, they just hadn’t made enough runs and contributions from Andrew Casey (42) and Jackson Bye (35) proved the difference.