The conclusion to Round 11 in the Ferntree Gully and District Cricket Association has brought more questions than clarity, as the fate of seven teams still rests in the balance heading towards a final-round Super Saturday.
Eildon Park continues to hold down fourth place following its win over Johnson Park.
With 265 on the board from week one, the Sharks were determined to claim a vital six points by chasing down the target.
Ben Stallworthy led the charge for the Sharks, his 73 alongside another Steve Devenish (54) half century saw the visitors capable of posting the score required.
However, the Panther bowling attack toiled hard and was rewarded for its efforts, Nathan Caton Robertson claiming 4/41 and Jarrod Hicks 4/57.
Eildon Park will eye the possibility of locking in a home elimination final if it can defeat Ferntree Gully Footballers at Pickett’s Reserve.
The equation is more complicated for Johnson Park, requiring victory against Upwey next week and needing significant results to go their way to extend the season.
At Carrington Park, Ferntree Gully will rue a lost opportunity against Knoxfield.
The defending premiers posted 156 last week to give the Blues a good opportunity to jump a win clear from the foot of the ladder.
However both openers were back in the pavilion shortly after to be 2/12.
A small partnership steadied the chase, but the Blues lose 6/32 against a determined Knights attack to be dismissed for 110, Ben Pearce the highlight with 30.
For the Knights bowlers, Josh Lindner claimed 3/35 from 27 overs, while Zac Wilson snared 4/17 from an economical 17.5 overs.
The Knights now sit in second place and have confirmed a finals appearance.
The result in the highly-anticipated match against The Basin will determine where they play in week one.
Meanwhile, Ferntree Gully needs to defeat Knox Gardens next week to remain in Norm Reeves Shield next season.
The Basin is officially the minor premier for the season, its win against Belgrave keeping it at the top of the ladder with an unassailable lead.
Belgrave won the toss and asked the home team to bat first, the Pies with an early breakthrough with Blake Walter in the shed early.
Joel Robertson (40) and Danny Rundle (85*) steadied the innings before a flurry of late runs, including a quick-fire 36 from Scott Vozzo, and the Bears reached 6/200.
The Pies toiled hard but ultimately were overcome by the Bears’ bowling, dismissed for 109 with Andrew Hyland (32) the highest scorer.
Blake Walter claimed 4/30 from his overs to guide the Bears to their 10th win of the campaign.
The Basin will encounter second-placed Knoxfield in a key preview ahead of the finals campaign, while Belgrave’s season will end at home against Upper Ferntree Gully.
After a heavily affected day one, Knox Gardens claimed victory over Upper Ferntree Gully.
Knox Gardens continued their innings from day one, with Joe Morsello (55), Jackson Marget (52*) and Pete Dunlop (34) reaching 6/228 before a declaration gave the Falcons the best possible chance at their visitors.
The Kings needed to bat out the day and fought hard, but breakthroughs in the bowling for the home team saw them claim the points.
Todd Burley was the best of the bowling, his 3/31 helping to restrict Upper Ferntree Gully to 160. Knox Gardens will face Ferntree Gully next week and will eye an outside finals chance should they win, while Upper Ferntree Gully will look to secure their spot for next season when they meet Belgrave.
Upwey sits on the bubble and will be applying pressure on the top four following a narrow win over Ferntree Gully Footballers.
After last week’s washout, Upwey batted first in the one day encounter, with Matt Mulcahy reaching 44 to place the Tigers in a good position.
Kyle Snyman top scored for the innings with 52, however with the ball Nick Bogar claimed 5/30 to restrict the runs, the home team finishing with 9/187 on the board.
The Griffens were 2/14 early but recovered to rebuild, Ben Rawlings reaching 50 from just 44 balls before Cameron Wheeler (3/31) attacked the middle order with the score at 7/10.
Some lower order resistance, including 33 from Yohan Arumadura, re-ignited the chase as the visitors edged towards the target, but were ultimately dismissed for 175.
Upwey will be fighting for their season in a must-win clash with Johnson Park next week, while Ferntree Gully Footballers could potentially sneak into a qualifying final with a win over Eildon Park.
In a sign of a healthy competition, the Decoite Shield Finals are also up in the air, with three teams confirmed and as many as four teams able to sneak into an elimination final.
Rowville enters the top four after defeating South Belgrave.
The Hawks reached 9/178, despite the best efforts of Shane Seamer with 3/30.
South Belgrave reached 175, with Jordan McDermott notching up 78.
But South were thwarted by James Cross, who claimed 6/27 alongside the points.
Rowville hosts Monbulk next week, with a win likely to hold off Knox Gardens and secure finals, while South Belgrave hosts St Johns Tecoma with the possibility of a qualifying final the reward should Rowville defeat Monbulk.
At HV Jones, Mountain Gate kept their season alive to re-join the winners’ list.
Set 91 last week, the Gators continued from 1/8, with Mitch Goddard unbeaten on 32* to secure the fourth win of the year.
The Gators face Olinda in the final round of the season, with victory and results needing to go their way.
Meanwhile, Knox Gardens face the ladder-leading Lysterfield in a quest to re-enter the top four at the crunch point of the season.
Olinda remains in finals contention after defeating Lysterfield at Lakesfield Reserve.
Set 127 by the Beavers, the Swans toiled hard to rebuild after early wickets.
Runs were shared around on their way to 7/130, despite Lysterfield’s Lachlan Dobson claiming 4/50. Lysterfield hosts Knox Gardens next week in the final hit-out before hosting the qualifying final, while for Olinda a victory is required over Mountain Gate to keep the finals dream alive.
Monbulk accounted for St Johns Tecoma, with the one-day match securing Monbulk a finals appearance.
The Hawks hit 192 thanks to Shane Cosstick (70) and Braeden Taeuber (41).
For the Saints, Andrew Wilson (4/23) and Luke Hands (3/40) were the main culprits with the ball.
Dean Palandri scored 32 of the Saints’ 167 runs, with the total restricted by the Hawk bowlers of Jason Fraser (3/32), Craig Broekhof (3/43) and Duncan Maher (3/50).
Monbulk will look to lock down a qualifying final with a win against Rowville next week, while St Johns Tecoma will play South Belgrave in their final match of the season.