EILDON Park Panthers and Upwey-Tecoma will fight it out for the tag of premiership favourites when the two sides resume play at Upwey Recreation Reserve in the FTGDCA Norm Reeves Shield this Saturday.
The Tigers looked to have taken ascendancy on the first day as returning bowler David Bell (3-13) and captain Sam Taylor led their side as they bowled out the Panthers for 139.
But the Panthers didn't lay down and instead went about the job of dismissing the reigning premiers.
That tactic proved a raging success with the Tigers reduced to 4-73 at stumps with star batsmen Matt Mulcahy, Taylor and Michael Hewitt all dismissed as Mick Sinclair (3-24) powered the Panthers attack.
The flood of wickets has set the stage for a devilish opening hour on Saturday as the Panthers need six wickets and the Tigers 66 runs.
Panthers captain Cameron Cosstick said both sides would be disappointed in their batting performances although he believed the synthetic pitch provided inconsistent bounce making it hard to bat on.
"We went out and had a go and now we are in a position to come back this Saturday and have a go at winning the game of cricket."
Cosstick said the intensity of play went up when the two sides met, whether their batsmen were on song or not. "We have played Upwey two times already this season. In our one-dayer, there was clearly more feeling in that game — it felt like we went up another level and our Twenty20 game was like that as well.
"The pressure is higher for these matches and it always seems like there is more intensity out on the pitch."
Laughlin Storey produced his maiden century (113) for Ferntree Gully Footballers who were dismissed for 244 at Knoxfield, with Nick Bogar continuing his good season with 71.
Knoxfield skipper Scott McKenzie and spinner Jayson Scanlan claimed four wickets apiece. Ferntree Gully is looking to consolidate its position in the four after knocking over Knox Gardens for 155.
The young Falcons batsmen, who were in form prior to Christmas, have fallen off the face of the earth, and it was left to experienced Travis Mulder leading the way with 39.
Patrick Lee (3-33) produced the best figures for the Blues.
In-form Johnson Park opener Bryn Gaunt became the first player to pass 500 runs this season, contributing 68 in his team's 186 against The Basin at Batterham Park.
The Bears were 1-11 at the end of play and not out of the game. Johnson Park (fifth place) must win to stay in touch with the four.
Hard-hitting Upper Gully batsman Paul Henry belted 88 at Kings Park against Belgrave, giving his team some breathing space with 268. The Kings are sitting third on the table and have the runs on the board to retain that position.
Decoite Shield action was dominated by former association representative Todd Burley who took 7-56 for South Belgrave against leaders Monbulk in its total of 195.
Burley was well supported by spinner Daniel Maxwell (3-34) taking some media off his brother Glenn. Blake Walter continues to dominate with the bat scoring 84.
Rowville (1-27) is in the box seat chasing Mt Gate's 153, notably due to the return of Darren Hill with 5-51 and Lysterfield posted a winning score of 275 over St Johns Tecoma on the back of Tyden Latty's 66.
Eildon Park 139 (B Morris 30; Taylor 3-21, Bell 3-13) v Upwey Tecoma 4-73 (Sinclair 3-34).
Knox Gardens 155 (Mulder 39; Lee 3-33) v Ferntree Gully 0-6.
Upper Gully 268 (Henry 88, McDonald 35, Colee 32, Slack 30) v Belgrave
FTG Footballers 244 (Storey 113, Bogar 71; McKenzie 4-42, Scanlan 4-76) v Knoxfield.
Johnson Park 186 (Gaunt 68, S Devenish 46; Heskes 3-66) v The Basin 1-11.