Top four begin brightly

Gisborne District Cricket Association's under 17 competition returned last weekend, with a round of 20-over games taking place. A pair of two-day games will follow before the top four will compete in the finals.

Every top four side began the new year brightly, each capturing a win. However, it was eighth-placed Romsey who stole the weekend. After Corey Day's unbeaten 40 took his side to 3/87 off their 20 overs, Romsey would've been reasonably confident of defending the total. However, they went above and beyond that task - thanks to an even bowling effort, Romsey skittled Lancefield for just 35. Day complimented his knock with 3/9 off his four overs, while Matt Richardson and Charlie Sutherland took two wickets apiece. Indeed, as Romsey conceded nine extras, only 26 runs came off the bat, with not one Lancefield batsman scoring double figures.

Meanwhile at Gilbert Gordon Oval, the story was the exact opposite. Needing a win to keep their top four hopes alive, Woodend were challenged early by Gisborne Red's opening bat and currently the third-highest run-maker across the competition, Jayben Bannan. Bannan's lively 42 before he was dismissed by Toby White set up Gisborne's impressive total of 5/106.

However, the Woodsmen dug in. Luke Chew scored 29 as his side took the game to the last over. Needing a boundary off the last ball, Mitch Sparrow delivered, as Matt Chew's lofted drive was caught in the infield. Sparrow's 2/13 complemented Mitch Johnson's 3/17 as Gisborne Red stayed in the hunt for a top two spot with a nail-biting four run win. Woodend's season however is all but over as they have the bye next week.

Gisborne White replicated the dose with their clash with Sunbury United Black, scraping by with a four run win. Liam Spear (41 and 2/8 off four overs) was the hero for Gisborne as they set United a total of 5/98 with Lachlan Betts picking up a pair of wickets. However, United fell agonisingly short, 6/94 at the game's finish. Braden Spear (2/14) and Oscar Hare (2/21) helped Gisborne secure the win.

In other results, Rupertswood continued their perfect season with a victory over Sunbury United Yellow while Diggers Rest/Bulla beat East Sunbury.

The final four is set in stone, with only the positions to be decided. Rupertswood sits on top with 36 points with Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne White half a game behind. Gisborne Red are in fourth, a full game behind Rupertswood on 30 points. Bacchus and Rupertswood will play off next week before the latter take their bye, meaning that the top four will be in flux right up to the final game of round right.