REIGNING premier Wodonga will have to produce its best batting performance of the Cricket Albury-Wodonga season to reel in Belvoir’s competitive total at Kelly Park on Saturday.
In a must-win match for both teams, the Eagles took the honours on day 1 after making 257 with skipper Ryan McNeil proud of the way his charges regrouped after an early batting collapse.
Wodonga’s best score this season is 246 against Albury in round 4.
Opener John Spencer led the way for the Eagles with 91, while McNeil (62) and Brad Freake (32) kept the runs coming late to put the home team in a position to win its third match of the season.
“We probably struggled a bit early but it was pleasing to fight our way back into it,” McNeil said.
“I thought Johnny Spencer really deserved a century, he timed the ball beautifully and played a role for us.
“We’re pretty happy with the score after being 6-130 as it gives us something to bowl at.
“You always want another 20 or 30 runs, but we are in with a chance.”
Spencer, who blasted 85 against North Albury last round, was eyeing his maiden first grade century before receiving a sharp delivery from Byron Hales which took the edge and was caught by Robbie Jackson.
Beau Kennedy was the pick of the Bulldog bowlers with 4-30, while Jackson chipped in with 3-38.
Wodonga will resume at 0-8.
Lavington faces a fight against Albury after being held to 220 at Billson Oval.
The Panthers struggled to put partnerships together in the top-order and crumbled to 5-119 before Tom Stead (50) and Ash Lafferty (32) steadied the ship and put a reasonable score on the board.
They added 65 for the seventh wicket to complement the good work of skipper James Tonkin who made an impressive half-century.
Albury bowled a good line and length from the outset with skipper Craig Mannagh the most successful bowler with 3-25 off 10 overs.
East Albury will defend 7-230 against St Patrick’s at Xavier High School.
The young Crows set themselves to bat out the day and solid knocks from skipper Andrew Wilkes (74 not out), Nick Hanlon (49) and Will McIntosh (37) enabled them to achieve their goal.
St Patrick’s will fancy its chances of reeling in the total after consistently making scores around 250 this season.