THE big guns boomed as the inaugural Bundaberg/Fraser Coast League blasted off on Saturday.
Rum City powerhouses Brothers and Across The Waves and Maryborough-Hervey Bay heavyweights Past Grammars and Bushrangers scored big wins in their local derby first-round matches.
Fresh from a defining victory over Waves a week earlier, Country/Wests went into their clash with a much-below strength Brothers as hot favourites, and they appeared in control when the six-times defending Bundaberg champions crashed to 5-95.
But Brothers recovered to reach 8-238 from the 40 overs.
The unlikely heroes were much-maligned opener Ashley Williams, who was coming off a golden duck but smashed 88 runs to surpass his previous top-grade best of 28, and No. 7 Ashley Helmore, who has been promoted from Division 3 this season, played some bludgeoning shots in his unbeaten 55.
Williams’ elder brother Boyd, a former Brisbane First Grade fast bowler who is semi-retired from the game, then delivered a mighty blow when he bowled Scott Irwin with the last ball of the first over.
Spinner Eddie Butcher took the new ball from the other end and also bowled another danger man Travis Henke with the last delivery of his first over.
Boyd Williams also fired out No. 4 Phil Proctor before going on to finish with 3-13 from 6.4 overs, and while first drop Steven Nichols swung the bat for 63, there was little resistance after him.
Brothers captain David Boge had Nichols stumped by keeper Jarrod Laycock in a burst of 4.4 in 10 balls, and he also ran out Andrew Gear cold with a direct hit.
Boge said having “the two Ashleys (Williams and Helmore) getting runs was a bonus”.
“When we really needed to bat out our 40 overs, they did the job for us,” Boge said.
The skipper said despite having lost a few of their stars and having other key men missing, he had been confident they could win “if (they) performed close to our potential”.
“The best thing was to get 238 with me and Jarrod (Laycock) missing out – those two stepping up was the most pleasing part of the game,” he said.
Waves, as expected, had far too many guns for Norths, racking up 9-285 with Trent Prossliner, promoted from No. 10 to opener, smashing his way to 50 and Curtis Janke top scoring with another classy knock of 68.
Norths were then sent packing for a mere 73 in 15.4 overs, with pace spearhead Trent Prossliner completing an outstanding double with 4-26 and fellow opener Rhys Grills wreaking havoc in tandem with him, bagging 5-44.
In Maryborough, Australs notched 6-155 against Past Grammars but the Fraser Coast premiers charged to a six-wicket victory with more than 12 overs to spare with Jason Pailthorpe top scorer with an unbeaten 53.
Mariners could manage just 110 against their hosts Bushrangers who took less than 24 overs to pass their target with seven wickets in hand, with Wide Bay open representative star Shane Muller flexing his muscle with 4-14 and an unconquered 32.