Hoppers Crossing had to grind it out in the opening round of the sub-district cricket season, with their match against Melton delicately poised at stumps.
With a delayed start due to weather and pitch conditions, Hoppers Crossing was sent in by Melton at Hogans Road Reserve, and despite wickets falling steadily they got through to 7-177.
The Cats had Jack Rhodes to thank for their score, with the opener batting for four hours to post 93, the only batsman to score more than 20.
Hoppers Crossing captain Justin Goegan said Rhodes showed what was possible with a bit of determination, and said his side was happy with where they sat in the game so far.
“We spoke before the day about being around 180 to 200, and we’re pretty close to that so that’s a good day really,” Goegan said.
“We probably would have liked a couple more wickets in hand, but we’ll have 13 overs next week to get as many as we can and I think we can defend that.
“We had three partnerships of over 40, and Jack was the mainstay of those. It would have been nice to see him get his hundred, but he toughed it out, got hit on the body and helmet a few times, but he was clearly the pick of the batsmen on the day.”
Rhodes and Cameron Nicol (14) kicked off the innings with a 47-run opening stand, and when Nicol fell there was another good partnership between Rhodes and Adrian Myers.
Several Cats batsmen made starts but could not go on with it, including Myers (12), Sanka Abeyruwan (19) and Brett Smith (15).
With just 67 overs bowled on the day, play will start early this Saturday so Hoppers Crossing can play out the last 13 overs of its innings before Melton begins the chase.
Goegan said he was confident his side could once again push for finals, having narrowly missed out last summer.
“We haven’t really changed our squad too much from last year, so we’re pretty much all home-grown players looking to go round again,” he said.
“We don’t have the superstars or the big paid players, but we all think that we can get the job done.
“We’ve had a good pre-season, everyone enjoyed it and is on board with the direction the club is heading from the top down.
“We believe internally that we’re good enough to play finals, and then once we’re there anything can happen, so we’re here to match it with the top teams.”