HORSHAM Cricket Association's under-16 cricketers returned from the mid-season break on Saturday morning, despite soaring temperatures.
All three of the two-day matches hang in the balance going into this week.
At Coughlin Park, just six runs separates finals contenders Horsham Saints and West Wimmera after both sides’ batsmen took advantage of a slow turf wicket.
West Wimmera sent the Saints in, and openers Sam Leith, 28 not out, and Liam Atherton, 13 not out, guided the home side to a competitive score of 0-59 off 23 overs.
Seb Dalgleish struck early to remove dangerous West Wimmera batsman Jake McQueen for just one, but Louis Preston and Todd Alexander combined for a 62-run second-wicket stand to have the visitors just in front on 1-65 at stumps.
Natimuk and Blackheath-Dimboola are tied on 74 runs after the first day of their match at Natimuk, with both sides pushing for a finals berth.
Trent McGough, 28 not out, and Peter Wren, 27, got the visitors off to a great start with a 69-run opening stand, before Stewart Hallett claimed his side’s only wicket, removing Wren just before the close of innings.
Scott Polycarpou struck early for the Bulls, bowling Natimuk opener Thomas Janetzki for a duck, but Jarrod Berry, Hugo Papst and Kyle Schuller all made contributions to level the scores.
Berry was dismissed for 32, but Papst, 20 not out, and Schuller, 15 not out, put on an unbroken 45-run stand.
Second-placed Rup-Murtoa leads Jung Tigers by 26 runs after day one of their clash at Dimboola oval. The visitors batted first, compiling 2-113 from 23 overs, before restricting the Tigers to 3-91 off 22 overs.
A win for Rup-Murtoa could see it jump to the top of the table, while a win for Jung could be all-important as it tries to sneak into the top four.
All matches continue on Saturday from 9am.