Tatura’s Haisman Shield side stands on the cusp of making finals for the first time since the club returned to Cricket Shepparton ahead of the 2005-06 season.
Victory against Old Students on Saturday has pushed Tim Kelly’s charges into the top six with just two matches remaining in the regular season.
But while Kelly was excited about where his team sits, he knew the job was far from done.
‘‘It was nice to be able to send out a little message to the boys to check the ladder (Sunday) morning,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s still a long way to go, there’s two games left in the season and we’re only in the top six by percentage, but it’s great going to every training session and into every game knowing we’re still alive.’’
An ability to take wickets in clumps against the Students allowed Tatura to claim the vital six points at Kialla Recreation Reserve.
After Nick Breslin (38) and captain Luke McPhillamy (20) had put the home club in a strong position, spinners Michael Archer (1-15) and Connor Hayes (1-23) helped Tatura take three wickets for two runs and change the momentum of the match.
Tyson McKenzie’s 28 (including six boundaries) threatened to blow the game open again, but after Jayden Armstrong castled the all-rounder, Jess Petherick (3-14) and Kelly (3-19) cleaned up the tail.
‘‘I was pretty happy to restrain them to just 140, they’re a dangerous batting side,’’ Kelly said.
Hayes (54) and Caiden Pratt (22) laid a strong platform in the chase, but the home side’s bowling attack — led by Connor Hangan (2-27) and Ranji Thirachchelvan (2-28) — made sure Tatura had to work hard for every run on its way to a four-wicket win.
‘‘The partnership between Caiden and Connor set us up really well,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘But we just need to be better at finishing off games.
‘‘It’s exciting to be in the top six, but the job’s not done, we’ve got to keep performing. The belief in ourselves is starting to grow and it’s good that we’re not relying on one or two guys to make all the runs or take all the wickets.’’
Defending a total of 140 was always going to be hard for the Students, but when McKenzie and coach Daniel Coombs were unable to bowl the job was even tougher.
‘‘We didn’t bat well enough, too many guys got starts and couldn’t go on with it,’’ McPhillamy said.
‘‘We bowled pretty well considering we were two bowlers down, Tyson was injured and Coombsy hurt his finger when he was batting.’’
Hangan has been a shining light for the side though, and McPhillamy will look to stabilise his list around the 15-year-old.
‘‘Connor’s going well, I’m looking forward to seeing his next two games because he’s had some rep cricket recently, but that’s out of the way now,’’ McPhillamy said.
‘‘We’ve struggled every week with heaps of changes, so we need to find a bit of stability in the last two games and into next year, and Connor will be a big part of that.’’