Two closely fought contests made for an entertaining Round 3 of the Northam Cricket Association 40 over season. Both games were played on Saturday afternoon in warmer conditions with a hint of a breeze.
At Bakers Hill oval, the home team won the toss and asked Grass Valley to bat first.
A partnership of 75 between Kitt Byfield and the returning Bailey O'Driscoll righted the innings after a shaky start of 2 for 21.
After Byfield fell for 22 with the total on 96, O'Driscoll batted on before eventually being dismissed for 69. His was an invaluable contribution to a very competitive total of 165 from 37.5 overs.
Brodee Starcevich (3 wickets for 29 runs from 8 overs) and Brayden Beck (3 for 23 from 5.5) captured multiple wickets for Bakers.
Matt Jankauskas (1 for 5 from 4), Brent Williams (1 for 24 from 5) and Steve Wainwright (1 for 14 from 5) were handy contributors.
Wainwright wasn't as destructive as the previous week where his searing pace and exaggerated movement proved difficult to handle for some.
While ultimately unsuccessful, Bakers made a good fist of the run chase.
A fourth wicket partnership of 51 between Wainwright and Alberto Giorgi saw Bakers to 96 and eyeing the total.
However when Wainwright fell for 42 with the score at 5 for 110, wickets began to tumble.
This was despite the best efforts of Brayden Beck (36 not out), who lifted Bakers to 150 after 40 overs.
Best of the Valley bowlers was Cody Even, who finished with an excellent return of 2 for 11 from 8 overs.
Aiden O'Driscoll (2 for 20 from 2) and Bailey O'Driscoll (2 for 32 from 7) also collected multiple wickets.
Youngster Kane O'Driscoll (1 for 8 from 4) deserves a mention for the second week running after capturing the key wicket of Wainwright.
In the other game, Ferals hosted Toodyay at Bert Hawke 2 in Northam.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat.
As they had been in their first ever game, Ferals were disciplined in the field and with the ball.
This restricted Toodyay to 37 at the drinks interval for the loss of six wickets. Toodyay gained momentum when play resumed, as the concentration of the young Ferals wavered.
Steele Davey thwarted the bowling side and batted cleverly with the tail on his way to 24. He was ably assisted by Chase Waters, who played a number of delightful strokes for his 17.
The Ferals captain returned to his opening bowlers in order to conjure a breakthrough and Callum Norrish obliged, finishing with 3 for 9 from 7 overs.
Michael Ferguson (2 for 11 from 3) and Troy Sims (1 for 5 from 4) were also effective.
Young spinner Fletcher Page (1 for 16 from 5.2) impressed with his variation, spinning the ball in both directions.
Toodyay added 51 in the 13 overs after drinks to reach 88, which presented a challenge for Ferals, given their troubles with the bat in the previous game.
They began brightly, racing to 26 after 5 overs for the loss of one wicket, before a terrible mix-up running between wickets.
Amid the hesitation and confusion, Alyssa Farrall pounced and threw down the stumps in a superb piece of fielding, to leave this writer well short of his crease.
Ferals were vulnerable but determined to seize the opportunity which they let slip in Round 2.
Troy Sims and Michael Ferguson built a 51-run partnership to take Ferals to 77 for 3 before Ferguson was dismissed for a stylish and sure 19.
Sims ensured they reached the total in the 21st over to secure the new side's first victory in the competition. He then retired on 44 not out to allow others an opportunity.
Time was called in the 27th over with Ferals on 115 for the loss of 6 wickets.
Aaron Waters claimed 2 for 22 from 7 overs while Alyssa Farrall and young Clark stood out in the field.
The performances of the many young players from all sides across the competition have been a highlight this season so far.
Most of this emerging talent are eligible for junior cricket and their success is encouraging, not only for their own confidence.
It is exciting and bodes well for the future of the competition.
Next week's fixture sees Ferals clash with Grass Valley and Balladong host Toodyay. Both Round 4 games are at Bert Hawke on Saturday at 12.50pm. Come down to see local cricket in action.