BAYSWATER Park rode a bumper middle-order partnership to a vital early season win in the RDCA Lindsay Trollope Shield on Saturday.
Sharks batsmen Stephen Craigie (78 not out) and Troy Gstrein (64 not out) shared a sixth wicket partnership of 149 to progress from an overnight score of 5-142 to close at 5-241 at Guy Turner Reserve.
After losing an early wicket, Croydon North's Nasir Shafiq (49) and Bipanpreet Singh (39) took the score to 101 before the Knights collapsed to be all out for 167.
Gstrein (4-60) did best with the ball.
Sharks captain Ben Beech praised the pair's partnership as the decisive part of the match.
"We were at 5-90 so to get that sort of partnership was unbelievable," he said.
"Craigie has opened the batting for us in other years and he is just back from taking a season off to concentrate on running a marathon.
"He is an inspirational type bloke in our side and gives us that cool, experienced head under pressure.
"It's the perfect spot for him as he can bat with the tail."
Gstrein joined the Sharks on the verge of the season after starring in the Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association and his ability to bat and bowl proved important.
"Troy got top-order batsmen with his wickets and then the last five came from four different bowlers.
"We haven't had that the past couple of years, we have better depth and quality."
Beech said the win could prove vital to the side as the season went on.
"It's huge for us as traditionally we have had some really bad starts to the season," he said.
"We have had 1-4 [win-loss] and 1-3 starts. We want to have our standards up high and build a winning culture so this gives the guys encouragement that the work we are doing at training is a positive."
Beech also praised the Knights for being committed to finishing the match as both sides had a chance of winning.
"Both teams and both captains were keen to play," he said.
"The game was in the balance and in games against opposition like that you need to get the eight points as it might well come down to deciding where we finish on the ladder because both our sides are pretty close together."
Knights coach Mark Sacristani said his side had to do better next round but would be strengthened by the return of all-rounder Mark Alexander.
"We were disappointed to come away with the loss," he said. "Their batting was much better than ours; we only had a couple of batsman who played well, including Shafiq."