Botha stars as seconds pip Dragons in thriller

Joe SarseroSound Telegraph

Rockingham-Mandurah are all but out of the race for finals after an outright loss to Willetton in round 13 of the WA Premier Cricket season.

The Mariners’ first grade are still a mathematical chance but will need to rely on three teams ahead of them faltering.

The second grade, however, have caught fire in the new year to be just two points away from the top six.

At Burrendah Reserve, Willetton’s firsts quickly bagged first innings points, overtaking the visitors’ 168 in the first hour with six wickets to play with.

Rockingham-Mandurah captain Craig Simmons snared his 10th five-wicket haul with 5-58 as the Dragons declared with an 80-run lead at 9-248.

The Mariners lost their first three wickets for 26, and at 5-48, it was only a matter of time.

Nick Willis top-scored in the second innings dig of 130 with a resolute 38 not out. Simmons finished with seven wickets for the match with 2-12 in Willetton’s second knock as the home team polished off the runs two down to keep pace at equal top on the ladder with Claremont-Nedlands.

Second grade had a thrilling one-wicket outright triumph — the Mariners’ fourth-straight victory — in a match of great enterprise at Lark Hill.

Rockingham-Mandurah declared just 19 ahead on the first innings despite being just four wickets down. Nathan Hutchison (49) and Eric Botha (43) led the way for the hosts in the score of 4-188.

Willetton’s second innings was closed after 40.5 overs with 8-193, an overall lead of 174.

Ryan Done claimed 5-83 and Botha’s fine match continued with 3-50 to go with his five wicket first-innings bag.

The Mariners had to work fast in an extended T20-style chase and lost a cluster of wickets to be 5-100.

Joel Marion (31) held his nerve and the late order together to get the job completed in the nick of time in 23.1 overs at 9-177.

Kai Harrison top-scored with 35 and Botha fittingly contributed with 32 in a match-winning performance of 75 runs and eight wickets over both days.

Third grade lost by 33 runs in a tight affair at Burrendah.

Chasing Willetton’s 8-218, the Mariners slipped to 2-12.

Jye Clark (38) and Chris Sherwin (31) rebuilt the innings with a 49 run partnership.

Willetton followed up with two more wickets for 5-95 before a 50-run stand for Shaune Guppy (36) and Byron Blevin (33).

Ryan O’Keeffe (31) registered the fifth score of the innings that got to 30 but not past 40, as the visitors couldn’t find the big player to push the total beyond 185 all out.

Fourth grade could not make Willetton bat twice, falling for 106 and 73 in reply to the Dragons’ score of 7-188 declared at Lark Hill.

The under-17s lost a close one by 14 runs, finishing their 60 overs at 8-168 in pursuit of the home team’s 182 at Burrendah Res-erve.

Jye Clark lead the way from the top of the order with 65 and Nathan Howell made 28.

Jack Richards made 50 not out from No.5 as the under-15s scored 133 in response to Willetton’s huge tally of 5-322.

In women’s cricket, Rockingham-Mandurah took victory in the under-15s by 39 runs.

The Mariners piled on 2-119 in 20 overs before holding Whitfords to 5-80.

South Perth took the honours in the older grades, winning the under-18s by 33 runs and claiming a seven-wicket win in the one-day seniors’ contest.

Lark Hill will host the first-grade match between the Mariners and Perth on Saturday, with second grade, in eighth spot, heading to Fletcher Park to battle the fifth-placed Demons.

On Sunday, the women take on University at James Oval, while the under-13s and under-14s boys meet South Perth in the final qualifying round with top-two hopes in their eyes.

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