DIGGERS have made it two wins from two after a strong batting performance on Saturday fuelled a 44-run win over defending champions Coro at Exies No.2 Oval.
Former skipper Nathan Smith was at his brutal best, clubbing a match-high tally of 44 runs.
His sixth-wicket combination with the in-form Jason Hampel – who last week came to the rescue for Diggers with a match-winning spell at the death against Exies – was worth 60 runs and came at a time when the match was balance on a knife’s edge, according to experienced paceman Glen Faganello.
“It probably came at that stage of the game where if we lost another wicket, we could have been rolled out for 110 or 120. They batted really well and it took the game away a little bit from Coro,” Faganello said.
Smith was the only batsman to truly establish himself at the crease, but his partnerships with opener Sebastian Dredge (13), Hampel (17) and Craig Lugton (12) were still enough for Diggers to see out their 40 overs and post a total of 168.
“Our total just accumulated, everyone pretty much got a start, just about,” Faganello said.
The Cougars looked capable of chasing it down but pace trio Hampel (3-14), Craig Lugton (3-36) and captain Jarrod Cahill (3-19) were on song, all but silencing Coro’s top-order batsmen.
Hampel’s performance once again earned rave reviews, with the all-rounder removing the dangerous Haydn Pascoe (26) and Rand brothers, Tim (13) and Rob (8).
“He had another blinder with the bat and the ball. He’s in some good form so hopefully he can keep it up for the rest of the season,” Faganello said.
Coro’s chances of victory faded with the dismissals of middle-order bats Ty Pascoe and Peter Taprell, both of whom made 24 runs.
But despite Diggers securing their second straight win – and the Cougars starting their title defence on a worrying note after last week scraping through with the points against Yenda – Faganello warned not to read too much into early-season form.
“Usually we are slow starters,” he said.
“But we’ve won a couple of good games early. Saturday was really pleasing, because at one stage we had only seven first graders at training, and we actually had four second graders fill in.
“The fielding from both sides was atrocious – there were a lot of catches dropped and I know Coro dropped a few early on that could have changed the game.
“I think it’s still fairly early on in the season. Coro’s a good side and they’ll definitely come good.
“They’re a bit rusty and probably miss Paul Plummer and Glen Cox a bit – to lose two strike bowlers like that is always going to make it a little bit more difficult.”