Fate hanging in balance

Fate hanging in balance

The Mariners’ first and third grade teams will play a critical first two hours against Perth at Fletcher Park this Saturday that will shape their fortunes.

First grade dominated all but the last hour of the day in the Demons’ lair after Perth batted upon winning the toss.

Brendon Diamanti struck with the second ball of the day and when he claimed his second wicket, the home side was 3-37.

Rockingham-Mandurah captain Craig Simmons removed key batsmen Jonathan Wells (52) and Adam Wheater (18) and the visitors were right on top of Perth at 6-83. The left-arm orthodox spinner claimed a four-wicket haul for the third time this season as he snared 4-33 from 19 overs.

Setting out after 150, the Mariners edged off to a cautious start.

Sam Whiteman, playing his first innings back from the Western Warriors, held firm as wickets tumbled around him. Rockingham-Mandurah lost 4-21 to stutter at 4-50.

The stumps score of 6-102 will see the countdown for the last 49 runs being eagerly watched by not just the first-placed Mariners or the Demons, in third spot, but other teams around the top six.

As well as this week’s second day, Fletcher Park will play host to another big moment the following weekend, when Rockingham-Mandurah battles Claremont-Nedlands for the one-day title on Sunday, March 6.

Third-grade captain Tony Coulson played the reassuring hand that his young team required, as Rockingham-Mandurah’s 205 was made to appear towering after the bowlers wrecked Perth’s top order.

Coulson stroked 15 boundaries in his fourth half-century of 2015-16, as he scored a season-best 82 and built the score up at Fletcher Park.

Daniel Jones helped the skipper with 29 before Chris Loveridge stepped in to tip the scales in the visitors’ favour. He made a late-order free-swinging 55 before making his first meaningful contribution this year with the ball, as he and Jordan Brokate (2-27) left Perth hanging at 5-59 by stumps.

Loveridge burst through the hole created by his opening partner with 3-27, two Demons skittled by the paceman.