THE hurdles keep presenting in front of Rockingham-Mandurah’s Western Australian Premier Cricket season after a tough week on and off the field.
Joondalup got off to a rollicking start on the first day of round six, while the Mariners came to terms with the injury-enforced retirement of Olly Cooley medalist Brendon Diamanti.
The New Zealand international was an instrumental part of the Mariners’ breakthrough flag triumph, scoring 429 runs and snaring 37 wickets as the go-to man of the first grade.
Rockingham-Mandurah acknowledged Diamanti’s efforts and professionalism in 49 games across five seasons helped change the culture at Lark Hill, from a district cricket club with potential, to one that rose from 15th to premiers last season.
This coupled with captain Craig Simmons missing the past two weeks because of a knee injury, has seen the reigning premiers taking on a different look.
Aaron Burrage stood up at Iluka after the Mariners lost an important toss and were sent in to bat.
The young all-rounder is finding his way in first grade cricket and repaid the selectors’ faith before being last man out for 92.
His gritty knock, coming in at 3/17, came from 166 balls and included eight boundaries.
Just five of the title-winning 11 from March stepped out against Joondalup but with the void comes opportunity as before play, Simmons presented first grade caps to opening batsman Vinnie Poller and paceman Matt France.
At stumps Rockingham-Mandurah, dismissed for 168, were unable to make inroads as Joondalup moved along to 0/49.
Second grade are also up against it at Lark Hill as the visitors motored away at four runs per over to amass 314.
Adam France was the pick of the bowlers in taking 3/41 from 14 overs while Craig Jones (3/85) and Liam Mead (2/39) played their part. At stumps, the Mariners were battling at 3/12.
Third grade have a huge task on their hands this weekend as Joondalup smashed the bowling to all parts of Iluka Sports Ground.
The Centurions finished on 7/413 but Lewis Pitts ground out 25 overs to finish with 3/98 and hold up his end.
An even day’s play sees fourth grade with the best winning chance for the Mariners out of Round 6 as nine bowlers kept Joondalup to 269.
Sean Guppy grabbed 2/36 before Rockingham-Mandurah moored safely at 0/10 by the completion of the first day.
Rockingham-Mandurah and University played out a thriller in the women’s B grade clash at Lark Hill.
The Mariners knocked out a competitive 6/110 in the 20 over match as the top five all made starts.