The Deni Rhinos are two games clear on top of the Murray Valley Cricket Association ladder after a dominant eight-wicket win against Katamatite on Saturday.
The round 10 clash was highlighted by South African import Mandus Venter’s Rhinos debut.
The right-arm pace bowler starred with the ball returning figures of 2/8 off his eight overs, which included four maidens.
Rhinos skipper Chris Pyle said Venter made his presence known early, with the import taking a wicket with his first ball for the club.
‘‘He (Venter) started with a short ball with plenty of pace and shocked the Katty batters,’’ he said.
‘‘The batsman was forced to hit it, otherwise he may have been hit in the head, and it was caught beautifully by Ben Irwin at fine-leg.
‘‘Katamatite were told about him being quick, but they weren’t expecting him to be that quick.
‘‘I don’t think anyone in the Murray Valley comp has seen pace like that before, and if that’s not him at full pace, it will be interesting to see just how quick he can get.’’
Ben Irwin also stood tall for the Rhinos, finishing 4/18 from his eight overs, while Boddie Arthur (2/26 off eight) and Liam Pitts (2/9 off 2.4) cleaned up the remaining wickets.
It looked like it would be an early finish for the Rhinos with Irwin and Venter opening the bowling and tearing through the opening attack.
The Tigers were left shocked at 6/7 early in their innings, however a strong effort from Ben Lucas (46) saw Katamatite score an unlikely 82 runs before the final wicket fell after 31.2 overs.
In response the Rhinos easily chased down the total, finishing 2/83 after 21.2 overs.
The Rhinos were led by Pyle, who hit nine boundaries on his way to 47 not out, and Ash Germano (28) who formed a 59 run second wicket partnership.
‘‘Katamatite pretty much dead batted it after we had them at 6/7,’’ Pyle said.
‘‘What we did learn though is that they bat really deep and have some strong bowlers.
‘‘If they were defending a total of 130 to 140, then I feel it would have been tough going for us.
‘‘I was pretty lucky myself. I was dropped three times during my innings and got a couple of lucky clips for boundaries.
‘‘It was tough going early but it got easier after the first 13 overs.
‘‘Our bowling attack was full of Premier Grade players so in my eyes I think Katty is still probably the strongest team in the comp for Division One.
‘‘It will be interesting to see how we match up against them with our usual Division One side.
‘‘In saying that we could still have quite a handy batting line-up, with Anthony Bradley, Kai and Charlie Hillier likely to come back into the side.’’
The Rhinos will return home this week, when they host cellar dwellers Nathalia at Memorial Park on Saturday.