An under-strength Rivergum has started the North Metro Cricket Association’s Jika Shield season strongly.

The Kookas won their opening two matches and are in a good position in the third, against Northern Socials.

The Kookas made 7-362 on day one against Socials, with all of the top seven batsmen getting starts and making at least 23.

The opening partnership between Matt Kiely and James Bonnici of 141 set up the big total.

Kiely made 83 and Bonnici 69.

Speaking before the match, Kookas coach Gary Bell said that some ways they had been lucky to get the results so far given the mixture of injuries and unavailability they had been facing.

“Matt Perri hasn’t played yet and Alex Jesensek is currently representing Australia in indoor cricket and will miss a game or two.

“Scott Morely was injured … and Cory Altis did his groin on the first ball he bowled on the weekend [in round two] and will miss a couple weeks.

“Daniel Bramich will miss this round and he’s not bowling at the moment. We’ve got a few guys to come back in.”

Bell said the unavailabilities and injuries hadn’t been all bad, as they were giving other players opportunities in the top side.

Teenager Fred Mastrogiannis and Jonathon Woodruff were two who have been in the side early in the season.

“Whether or not they will stay in for the whole season we’re unsure, but it’s a good experience for them if they have to drop back,” he said.

The Kookas’ core group of players have returned, while they’ve added Altis and Bonnici to the side that finished runner-up last season.

Bell said one of the strengths of the club was being able to get the playing group together.

“The players get along together and are really good mates on and off the field,” he said.

“That’s how Corey came to the club. He’s played premier ones and played twos at Northcote last season.

“He could have gone to any club he wanted to. He’s good mates with a few of the boys and he watched the grand final.

“He wanted to do more than just catch up with his mates on Saturday nights.

“After five or six years at Olympic Colts, James Bonnici decided he wanted to return to his junior club.”