LATROBE consolidated top spot on the Cricket North West ladder with a crushing outright two-day win over Burnie yesterday, while Ulverstone and Wynyard played out their own versions of The Great Escape to edge past Sheffield and Devonport respectively.
Individual highlights were five-wicket hauls to Jackson Saggers, Dion Parsons and Michael Bishop, and half-centuries to Richard Miles and Corey Murfet.
WYNYARD v DEVONPORT ORIONS
WYNYARD started the day needing another 190 runs with eight wickets in hand to secure first-innings points.
With Kaylem Hardy (35) and Nick Pearce (48) adding 57 runs in the first 20 overs of the day, confidence was rising in the Blues camp, but disciplined bowling from Devonport got the Orions back into the game in the next 20 overs.
Gregg Sharman (25) and Jarrod Willcox (21) made starts, but Wynyard could not get on top of the Orions' young speedsters Jackson Saggers (5-73) and Oliver Robinson (4-61).
At 8-192 Wynyard was in big trouble and Devonport had every right to think an upset win was on the cards, but a 67-run partnership between Aaron Butler (34) and Todd Chatwin (37) showed the Blues' lower order had some steel.
The innings would have one final twist when Chatwin was removed by Saggers with the Blues at 9-259, still requiring two more runs, but Butler would not be denied, helping the home side to 265 and a fighting first-innings win.
Saggers five-wicket haul took him to 40 wickets for the season, a tremendous effort for a teenage paceman playing his first full season of first-grade cricket.
The remaining overs in the day saw Devonport bat again in search of second-innings bonus points, with the Orions finishing at 4-122.
ULVERSTONE v SHEFFIELD
ULVERSTONE resumed at 4-114, needing 34 runs to record first-innings points.
However a diabolical first 10 overs had it fighting to stave off a first-innings defeat, with Aiden Marshall (3-54) and Shane Crawford (3-21) leading a Sheffield revival.
The pair helped themselves to five wickets for just 29 runs as Stubbs, Smith, Perko and Murfet came and went in quick succession.
But last year's grand final heroes Darren Rossiter (22) and Luke Richardson (7) held their nerve yet again, adding 31 runs for the final wicket to keep the Mountaineers at bay.
Ulverstone was eventually bowled out for 174, a 27-run first-innings lead.
After fighting hard with the ball, Sheffield looked like it might hand Ulverstone an unlikely outright win as it slumped to 5-72.
The Mountaineers had a 55-run lead, but with more than 40 overs left in the day they needed to bat for as long as possible.
Having averted the danger, Sheffield declared at 7-229.
Teenager Corey Murfet (3-51) was the best of the Ulverstone bowlers, with Lyndon Stubbs (2-59) lending good support.
With 20 overs left in the day, Ulverstone adopted a Twenty20 batting style, smashing 3-120.
Backing up his good bowling effort, all- rounder Murfet made 74 not out from 68 balls in an innings that included 13 fours and a six.
After an eventful day, Ulverstone edged a point closer to the top two, while Sheffield maintained fourth position on the ladder.
LATROBE DEMONS v BURNIE
BURNIE resumed on day two at 6-59, needing another 71 runs to avoid the follow-on.
While Brady Grey (38) looked good in a counter-attacking innings, the remaining Hur- ricanes batsmen were unable to counter the consistent swing bowling of Michael Bishop (6-38), and the pace and bounce of Sean Gower (2-30).
Burnie was all out for 108, with Bishop taking his first five-wicket haul in CNW first grade.
Asked to follow on, Burnie started well, with Brady Yates (16) and Peter Saward (17) combining for an opening stand of 32.
But just as in the first innings, the Hurri- canes lost wickets in groups, and they soon slumped to 4-38.
Adam Drinkwell (29) and Grey (13) provided some resistance, adding 32 runs for the fifth wicket, but when both were dismissed by Dion Parsons the visitors were 6-88, still needing 44 runs to make Latrobe bat again.
Some late-order hitting from Kade Bellinger (29) provided some highlights for the Hurri- canes, but Parsons would not be denied, knocking over the tail to finish with 5-35 as Burnie fell for 119.
The Demon spearhead's first five-wicket haul for the season helped Latrobe to an outright win by an innings and two runs, extending its lead at the top of the ladder.
In the penultimate round, Latrobe hosts Sheffield, Burnie takes on Wynyard and Devonport faces Ulverstone.