A more competitive Rockingham-Mandurah presented after the Western Australian Premier Cricket Christmas break but couldn’t nose over the line in one-day matches last weekend.
The Mariners fell to Melville and South Perth but were right in both matches till late.
Last Saturday, the first grade travelled to Tompkins Park, buoyed by the inclusion of veteran captain Craig Simmons for his first match since November.
The visitors won the toss and inserted Melville and it appeared to be the right call when the Storm were 4/51.
Adam France (2/44) and Aaron Burrage (2/48) made the early inroads but Melville’s experienced middle order fought a rear-guard action. Kyle Gardiner took the honours with 4/55 from his ten overs, while spin partner Simmons was miserly from his full allotment with 0/20.
Setting out after Melville’s 9/244, all of the Mariners top half showed glimpses of breaking through. Dane Ugle impressed with crisp flicks off his pads and lofted straight drives from both the quicks and spinners in his innings of 48 from 39 balls.
At 5/115, Rockingham-Mandurah were right in it with plenty of overs remaining as debutant Nathan Hutchison (16) and rookie Brandon Burt put on 37 for the sixth wicket.
Burt has made every post a winner in his first month of first grade with scores of 80 and 44 followed up by 45 against Melville, an innings with three boundaries and two sixes.
As time ticked down, Melville held firm and the Mariners were dismissed for 216 in the 46th over.
The next day, Simmons decided to bat first after winning the toss at Lark Hill versus South Perth.
Ugle (36), drafted into the Perth Scorchers squad during Christmas again led the way and combined with Mitch Green (25) for a second wicket stand of 53.
The going was tough in the middle overs as Simmons (38) and Burt (26) scored at a slower clip than their usual rate.
Rockingham-Mandurah were put to bed at 179 in the 47th over and the visitors cautiously approached the target, with Simmons opting for spin as his weapon of choice.
The captain bowled four maidens in his 1/16 from 10 overs while Gardiner continued his recent spurt of wickets with 2/36.
South Perth recovered from 5/83 to find the winning combination and make it home without the loss of another wicket and with just eight balls remaining.
Josh Smith put on a special performance in third grade to put Rockingham-Mandurah in the top six as he destroyed Melville in just 20 overs of clean hitting.
He bludgeoned 103 with 11 fours and five sixes, along with Phil Scott (52*) to mow down Melville’s 166.
Earlier, the veteran spun out 3/17 to back up solid work from Aidan Andrews (2/30) and Nick Willis (2/31).
Second grade were unable to chase down targets over 200 on both days while fourth grade missed out by 67 runs against Melville.
The under 17s gritted their teeth to eke out a 16-run win as they made just 131 before the bowlers put the clamps on Melville. Johan Van der Westhuizen made a critical 40 and Kai Harrison contributed with 29 and 2/19 from nine overs.
Rockingham-Mandurah’s under 15s pulled one out of the fire after Melville tallied 8/201 from 60 overs.
Jye Clark struck his third straight score over fifty in setting up the win with 65.
The middle and late order saved the Mariners from 4/40 as Jack Sears (32), Nathan Howell (29) and Kade Guppy (24) made their mark.
This weekend, Rockingham-Mandurah take on Perth, with first grade travelling to Fletcher Park for the round 11 one-day encounter.