WANGARATTA Magpies put their season back on track with new captain Paul Smithwick and opener Paul Akers guiding the home side to a total of 8-267 against City Colts on Saturday.
With just one first-innings victory from three starts, the Magpies lost the toss but were put in to bat for their first home game of the season at Norm Minns Oval.
Smithwick, who came over from Rovers United last year, pushed himself up to first drop and proceeded to make his first big score of the year with 63 while Akers compiled an impressive 60 against a Colts attack missing star quick Nathan Younger, who is expected to return for day two next week as could Justin Solimo.
Smithwick said he was pleased with the total and the side was confident going into next week.
“We’re pretty happy with 267 and we think we’ll be able to defend it,” he said.
“I’ve changed clubs and I haven’t had the greatest of starts so it was good to get in early and have a good hit out.
“Paul (Akers) has been batting quite well all year.
“To start with yesterday he hit the bad balls and did all the right things and struck the ball well.
“But then towards the end he got tied down but he worked his way through that and it was good to see he didn’t give up his wicket, he worked his way through the spinners too, which he’s usually not happy with.
“It was great to get some good partnerships going, it is something we haven’t been able to do to well this year.
“But I think their attack was a little depleted.
“Nathan Younger and Aaron Braden were out but Colts still bowled really well and I thought at one stage we should have pushed on to nearly 300 and they kept us to 267 so they’d be happy with that.”
The Magpies also had solid contributors in Barry Grant (25) Wayne Ashton (28) and Simon Patterson (34 not out).
Sam Holgate was the standout in the Colts attack, taking three top order wickets for 28 runs from eight overs.
Smithwick hoped the innings would be a catalyst for a surge towards the top four.
“If we can get a roll on now, we are certainly a chance to play finals,” he said.
“We’ve certainly got the batting lineup and the bowlers to do it.”
Meanwhile, Corowa is in a commanding position away against Yarrawonga Mulwala.
While boom recruit Jon Shaw was out for a duck at the top of the order, the rest of Corowa’s batsmen found touch ending the day all out for 295 with youngster Nathan Rhodes (63), all-rounder David Anderson (65) and Jarred Lane (60) all enjoying quality time at the crease.
A lone hand by Brad Piazza (93) took Myrtleford to 137 against Whorouly Gapsted who are struggling at 7-58 in reply. Opening Saints quick Aaron McIlroy did the damage with the ball taking 4-19 off 13 intense overs.
Rovers United look set for a victory against Greta, with Rovers at 6-92 in reply to Greta’s 104.
The star of the day was Rovers opening bowler Ben Cane who took 4-27 from 13.
In the remaining match of the round, Beechworth is on target (1-30) to reel in Rutherglen’s 144.