Fighting finish to the season by Valleys
Our fighting final round matches in the seniors have given us plenty to be optimistic about as we look forward to the season ahead.
Wins in the Firsts, Thirds, Fifths and Sixths, close finishes in the Sevenths and the Women’s team and some gritty performances in the Seconds, Eighths and Ninths demonstrated that we’ve got plenty to build on. And don’t forget the Fourths – they had a bye.
We’re finals-bound with our two NWCA teams – the Sixths and the Ninths – while the Fifths missed the finals action by the narrowest possible margin - .09 per cent and 2 points, after a couple of ‘interesting’ outrights by teams below us on the ladder in the last round.
The Women’s team put up their best effort of the season and had their closest finish, while a group of youngsters got the Thirds over the line.
The Firsts had little trouble accounting for Aberfeldie Park down at their home ground, with our 281 on Day 1 spearheaded by Arosha Perera’s 94, backed up by 38 from Raj Aiyappan and 37 from coach Lou Raffaele.
However, a problem which we will need to rectify if we’re to go back up the ladder is the inability to bat out our overs. Not once during the season did the Firsts last the full 80 overs – or even 40 overs in a one-day match.
We fired out Aberfeldie Park for 176 in their innings, with Raj Aiyappan taking four wickets and Steve Gentilin three.
Our Firsts finished Sixth. We were looking at a spot in the finals after getting maximum points over Kingsville Baptists in Round 7, but three losses in the final four rounds hurt us.
Decisions by the club to move on players that did not meet our Moonee Valley behaviour standards impacted on the Firsts, but we should be a better team for it next season.
We got smashed by Aberfeldie Park on Day 1, crashing to 8/34 after not many overs.
Our best stands in our score of 73 were 25 between Murray Walker and Peter Smith for the 10th wicket, and 14 between Murray and brother Nigel, making his Seconds debut, for the 9th wicket. Muz top scored with 31.
Jim Polonidis and captain Daniel Phillips each took two wickets as Aberfeldie Park declared on 5/159, then we were given the task of averting an outright.
We lost our ninth wicket on 140, with a lead of just 54 and 16 overs to go – leaving Aberfeldie plenty of time to secure maximum points.
But Nigel Walker and Pete Smith put their heads down and refused to give their wickets away, adding 22 runs and eating up the overs until Nigel was out for 17 with just two overs to go. Outright saved.
We went into the game against St Andrews with a new and inexperienced team, after the non-availability or promotion of more than half of the experienced players in the team.
But our combination of juniors, dads and regulars under the stand-in captaincy of Geoff Smith didn’t let us down.
We fielded Sam O’Brien from the Under 16s, Peter Chiera and Luke Malone from the Under 14s, and Jake de Niese and Joe Van Loon in their first full year of senior cricket. Our dads were Domenic Chiera and Steve Malone.
Playing at home, we kept St Andrews to 189 on an excellent batting strip, three late wickets to Geoff and two to Greg Nicol. We lost two wickets at the end of Day 1, and still had a chase of about 150.
Steve Malone hung around for a good part of Day 2 for his 36, and the efforts of skipper Geoff (28), Sam O’Brien (26) and Peter Chiera (27no) got us over the line seven wickets down.
A 54-run seventh wicket stand between Sam and Peter, to take us to within sight of our target on 178, was the sign of things to come in future seasons.
The Fifths needed to win to keep their finals hopes alive – and win they did, even with the absence of skipper Sandro Capocchi and keeper Phill King.
Captained by Under 16 Black coach Simon Payton, our boys – including five of his Under 16 charges – took it up to Coolaroo and went chasing quick runs.
We threw a couple of wickets away in our chase, but made a handy 233, on the back of scores from two Under 16 players – Ben Coote with 49 and opener Mick Bannister with 42.
Coolaroo was 1/60 at the end of Day 1, with a wicket falling to a freak catch close in from Bob Sciacchitano. But the big-hitting batsman was caught first ball at slip on Day 2 by sub fielder Steven Ball, and we were on our way.
Steve Bonfa took 4/52, Kevin Gardiner 2/28 and Bob Sciacchitano 2/12 as we knocked Coolaroo over for 201.
Substitute fielder Peter Wright from the Under 12s took two great outfield catches to underline his potential for the future.
Unfortunately the other results in C Mats didn’t go our way, and with two ‘interesting’ outright results for teams below us, we were squeezed out of fourth spot and out of the finals.
The Mighty Fighting Sixths confirmed their spot on top of the NWCA Legends Shield ladder with a solid win over Taylors Lakes, playing at the sandpit down at Debney Park.
This squad was our success story of 2006/07 when they came together for the first time as the Mighty Fighting Eighths, and they continued on with it this year when we moved them into two-day cricket.
Our guys set the challenge for Taylors Lakes on Day 1 with 9/289cc, with three of the MFS players – (left to right) Dean Lawson, John Roberts and Norm Wright hitting half centuries, and Sharafat Ali falling just short with 47.
The 60-run partnership between John and Norm brought up their inaugural 50s for Moonee Valley.
We were untroubled in bowling out Taylors Lakes for 155, with Anthony Sherer, Alan Harry and Sharafat Ali each taking two wickets.
The result left us 11 points clear on top of the ladder – but the hard work of finals is still ahead of the Sixths. The team lost just one match for the season, and had a tie.
Having Ian Denny in the team is always a bonus, and the Sevenths used a century by Egbert – his third of the season – to come close to taking the points against Sunshine YCW.
Ian’s 114 helped us set a competitive target of 9/207, backed up by 19s from openers William Lai and Mick Cumbo, and a 16no from Peter Bonfa, playing with his son Frank.
Shaun Rayment and William Lai each took two wickets as Sunshine passed our total with one over to go.
The Eighths paid the price for an unsettled start to the season, as we rattled on well after Christmas and just missed the final six.
Sean O’Kane made 70 to go with his two centuries from earlier in the season, but we couldn’t sustain the effort around him and were 6/127 after our 35 overs.
We took just two wickets as we were overhauled by top-of-the-ladder St Albans.
Garry Sturrock made 54 as the Valleys compiled 7/97cc off our 35 overs against Rockbank.
We’ve been very good in the second half of the season at defending our wickets and ensuring we don’t go all out, but we still need to develop a bit more firepower in what is a young squad.
But our efforts got us into the finals, and that’s a big bonus.
Rockbank knocked over our total with the loss of just three wickets, but there’s plenty of promise in the young players being developed by skipper Paul Comino.
The final round match against Gisborne was our best showing of the season, and we just failed to run down their total of 6/105.
We stuck to the task in the field, with some good catching and some great bowling returns by Sam Lawson (4/19 off 10 overs) and Tien Ha (2/23 off 7 overs).
We were well on target at the drinks break, being 3/77 around the drinks break, but our innings faltered after that and we finished our overs on 9/96. It was still our best total of the season, and our closest result.
Tien Ha delivered on the promise she had shown all season and her score of 32 was our best all season.
Our inaugural women’s team may not have won a game for the season, but the spirit was incredible and the indications are already there that they players intend to improve their skill base over winter and come back with a new determination next season.
Youth into the finals:
There’s plenty of junior talent pushing through the junior ranks and into our senior teams.
We already have nine juniors in the teams for the Sixths and Ninths finals – Sam O’Brien, Lalith Buddhadasa, Luke Malone, Cameron Sturrock, Beau Velona, Eamonn Fenaughty, Jason Dolezal-May and Jordan and Ali Ahmed.
Had we made the finals in the Fifths, there would have been a further five juniors eligible and likely to play in senior finals – Mick Bannister, Ben Coote, Frankie Reitano, Sam Coventry-Poole and James Johnston.
It says a lot for our junior development program.
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