Just three wickets separated Mooroopna from an all-important outright win in the race for Haisman Shield finals on Saturday.
Having entered day two with first innings points in the bag, the Cats still had everything to play for against Shepparton United, with the bonus points for an outright a huge incentive as they looked to move in front of Tatura for sixth place.
And it started well for the Cats after resuming at 4-96 having bowled United out for 57 a week earlier.
Mooroopna knew quick runs were key and needed just 17 overs to move to 8-165, where captain Paul Marshall declared.
Simon D’Elia led the way with an unbeaten 29, Hayden Smith added 26 while Brad Boyle also finished 17 not out.
Marshall said the effort with the bat was exactly what was needed.
‘‘That was the focus; quick runs and leaving us 60 overs to bowl,’’ he said.
‘‘We aimed for 100, 110 in front and the timing of the declaration worked out quite well for us.’’
United had little to play for sitting well outside finals calculations, but its pride meant rolling over for an outright loss was not an option.
Alan Tonks and Rehan Bari opened well before Tonks was caught at 1-32, before D’Elia opened up the game for the Cats with two quick wickets to push United to 3-36.
Again United had a strong partnership to steady the innings, Damon Zampaglione and Chris Rendina adding 26 and killing valuable time until the former was caught for 23.
Will Hale knocked over Angus Lake for seven and Rendina and Will Jackson were dismissed quickly with United slumping to 7-87, giving Mooroopna a massive sniff of the outright win.
But United answered the call as Matt Barclay and Dwain Vidler would not falter, finishing their 62 overs at 7-106.
‘‘There were probably only five or six overs left, and with Dwain Vidler at nine and Matt Barclay still in we knew it would be difficult,’’ Marshall said.
‘‘But it all goes towards our percentage, which is why we were just looking for as many wickets and runs as we could.’’
Despite narrowly missing the crucial extra points that come with an outright victory, Marshall could only take positives from the contest heading into a final-round showdown with Numurkah.
‘‘It was a fantastic day for us, we went in wanting to have a real crack at an outright win and we came very close to doing that,’’ he said.
‘‘We fielded and bowled fantastically and put them under pressure, which was exactly what we wanted to do.
‘‘Through the middle part of the season we haven’t put full games together and we did that on the weekend.
‘‘With the last game against Numurkah, we don’t go in there hiding away from the fact they’re the top side. We’re a good side as well and we head to that game thinking about taking the six points.’’