It takes a whole team effort to win a premiership flag, and the Deni Rhinos have shown early signs that they could be building to something special.
The Rhinos put forward arguably their best all-round team effort of the season in a dominant 96 run win over fourth placed Barooga at Memorial Park on Saturday.
The day saw solid batting from the Rhinos, led by number four batsman Andrew Hogan (63 not out), with their top four each scoring more than 30 runs on their way to 6/204 after their allotted 45 overs.
This was backed by an outstanding bowling effort, with all five members of Saturday’s bowling attack chiming in with a wicket to have Barooga all out on 108 after 32.4 overs.
The win saw Deni build a two-game gap between themselves, in second, and the Hawks on the MVCA Premier Grade ladder.
Rhinos skipper Brad Todd said the win was a big confidence boost for his side.
‘‘Everyone was pretty upbeat after the game, it was a good even spread of performances,’’ he said.
‘‘Our batting has been pretty consistent this year, not losing wickets in quick succession so far, which was again the case on Saturday. Hopefully this continues.
‘‘It’s always good to have plenty of blokes contributing. Hoges (Hogan) batting at number four has so far seen him come in later in the innings, which allows him to score freely with the second and third change bowlers.
‘‘We have had a decent start with each game this year which has been pleasing. It would be nice to see us press on after getting starts, but there’s no complaints at the moment.’’
The Rhinos started the day on a high, winning the toss and choosing to bat in the windy conditions.
Dean Edge and Brad Todd opened the batting and put opening bowlers Riley Gow (2/44 off nine) and Saranjit Kalsi (1/45 off nine) on the back foot early.
Edge (31) started the innings beautifully, smashing four down the ground in the first over to show his intent.
He and Todd (37) built a solid 61 run opening partnership before the latter was sent on his way after being trapped in front by Will Lavery (2/40 off nine).
Boddie Arthur came in at first drop, with he and Edge building a 29 run partnership.
Unfortunately for the Rhinos, Edge became Lavery’s second victim when he was caught, leaving the home side at 2/90 with Hogan coming to the crease.
Hogan and Arthur dug deep to avoid a batting collapse, with the pair pushing the score to 137.
Arthur (33) was the next removed, falling short of the crease and being run out.
Liam Pitts (seven) gave Hogan the majority of the strike in his short time in the middle, before being trapped in front by Gow, but with the Rhinos well in control they were not hindered by the wicket.
Brodie Bennett (13) came in looking for quick runs, as he and Hogan piled on 34 before his bails were sent flying by Gow, with Mick Barnett (two) suffering the same fate when swinging big and missing to give Kalsi a wicket in the 44th over.
Jonty Tubb (three not out) joined Hogan and the pair managed to add six runs off the remaining balls to push the score to 6/204.
‘‘We were happy with a total over 200; we knew if we bowled well we should be able to defend that,’’ Todd said.
‘‘Ideally we won’t rely on just one or two bowlers to take most of the wickets, we have seen that later on in the season it will take an even spread to help us win games.’’
The Hawks looked dangerous early in their run chase, with Daniel Ellis putting away four boundaries quickly.
With the score on 22 however, the Rhinos scored the prized wicket of Ellis (17) with Bennett (3/31 off nine) up-ending the stumps.
Fellow opener Matt Jaensch (five) followed Ellis into the sheds soon after, trapped in front by Hogan (1/17 off five), with Barooga now 2/24.
Bennett continued his dominant start with the ball, taking crucial wickets of Hawks’ skipper Sam Leigh (five), caught behind, and Jamie Stanyer (12), bowled, to have Barooga crumble to 4/41.
The Rhinos were well on top with the ball, with Gow (37) the only batsman to show resistance for the Hawks.
Chris Cheong (one) and Lachlan Sutton (two) were quickly removed before Evan Pocock (2/24 off seven) had Gow caught to seal the fate of Barooga, now 7/84.
Kalsi (seven) did not worry the bowlers, caught behind off the bowling off Ben Irwin, however Cam Nye (15) and Zeke Bunge (15) wagged the tail a little bit for the visitors.
But with Nye bowled by Pocock and Irwin (2/2 off 2.4) dismissing Bunge, Barooga’s innings came to an end in the 33rd over, all out for 108.
The efforts in the field saw Rhinos wicket keeper Jonty Tubb finish the day with three catches, a much welcome return to previous form in the 2017/18 season, before he missed the 2018/19 season due to a knee reconstruction.
Rhinos pace bowler Dylan Rotherham also chimed in with a wicket, finishing with figures of 1/33 off nine.
‘‘A couple of blokes who have bowled in the previous games didn’t get the chance on Saturday so there is a bit of depth to our bowling,’’ Todd said.
‘‘Jonty has been getting better each week, he has missed a fair chunk of cricket with his knee reco so it was always going to take him some time to find his feet again.
‘‘It looks as though he may be heading off in the new year, but hopefully we can convince him to stay for a bit longer.
‘‘With only the one loss so far we are sitting in an okay spot, hopefully we can finish off 2019 with another two wins (against Cobram-Yarroweyah United and Tocumwal) and finish with the one loss heading into the new year and the two day format.’’
The Rhinos will be confident of another win when they host CYU for round eight this Saturday.