Sydenham-Hillside has its top-four spot in the north A1 Victorian Turf Cricket Association competition under lock and key.
An in-form Storm dismantled second-placed Sunshine YCW by 125 runs in the first innings of the penultimate round at Kinder Smith Reserve on Saturday, giving more momentum to their finals campaign.
“It was the most complete performance of the season by a mile,” Storm skipper Kane Twentyman said. “I put it on the boys on Friday night that we hadn’t put in a really complete performance, so it would be nice to bowl a side out, hold all our catches and not be sloppy – and we were able to execute that.
“It was a good solid all-round effort.”
Sydenham-Hillside went into the day chock full of confidence after posting an intimidating 9-282 declared.
Storm’s opening batsmen Steven Sandhu (59) and Warren Hackney (129) laid the foundations for a match-winning score.
“The two of them set the game up perfectly for us,” Twentyman said.
“It took a bit of a while for Warren to get in, because Steve was hitting the ball quite well, so he was playing second fiddle to him for a bit.
“Once Steve went out, Warren took the mantle, and I think he batted 65 or so overs and spent a lot of time out there, which is what we needed.”
Sydenham-Hillside still needed to bowl well to defend the total, and also to notch up enough points to edge closer to Sunshine YCW in the standings.
YCW is second with one round to go, and the Storm has a sneaky chance of claiming a home semi-final if final round results go its way.
But a flat YCW was never in the hunt, bowled out for just 157, then posting 5-56 after the follow-on. Twentyman was the chief destroyer for the Storm with 6-41.
“I bowled through the middle order with Alex Hassett, and we just bowled in a partnership,” Twentyman said.
“We really put the foot down on them.
“I just bowled full and straight, didn’t do too much to challenge them.
“But they played around the front pad a few times, and I got lucky.”
With one two-day game left in the season, Moonee Valley is confirmed minor premiers, while Sunshine YCW (94.59), Sydenham-Hillside (90.92) and Sunshine (87.91) are likely to jostle for positions two through to four, though fifth-placed Aberfeldie Park is still a slim chance.
“Being four points away from second spot, we’d need a bit of luck [to get a home final],” Twentyman said.
“Sunshine YCW have an easier game against Barkly Street than we do against East Coburg … but you just never know.
“We’ve put ourselves in the mix.”