LAKE Illawarra have taken a giant step towards the South Coast Cricket first grade minor premiership after scoring a resounding outright win over Albion Park at Keith Gray Oval on Saturday.
Their cause was helped by a brave batting effort from Warilla Sports, who denied Oak Flats first innings points in their game at Oakleigh Park. Meanwhile, Gerringong/Jamberoo boosted their semi-final hopes with a victory over The Rail.
The other match had Shellharbour move closer to a playoff spot via a hard-fought win over Kiama.
Albion Park's meagre first innings tally of 112 was easily eclipsed by the Lakers last week and Nathan Tyrell (89), Shane Cody (25), Greg Connor (60) and Aaron Henry (33 not out) all helped the Lake close at 6/268 on day two.
Young leg-spinner Jack Bennett finished with 3/117.
Batting a second time the Eagles never settled, as four of their top six batsmen were dismissed for ducks.
If not for 31 from Matthew Cormick and Rob Monaghan (18 not out) they would have been further humiliated, scrambling to just 89. They are now out of the top four.
Connor (4-22) and Jamie Crowhurst (3-30) did most of the damage for the Lakers.
Shellharbour showed some fighting spirit to snare a vital victory over Kiama Cavaliers at Tom Willoughby Oval.
Chasing Kiama's 169, the Scorpions resumed at 3/32, but 39 from Ben Mitchell, 30 from James Keywood and a superb unbeaten 62 from Nick Formosa allowed the home side to reach their target for the loss of just five wickets.
Matt O'Brien was the only multiple wicket-taker for the Cavaliers.
Kiama batted aggressively in their second innings, Jaya Hartgerink scoring a season-best 70 before they declared at 5/117. Beau Chamberlain took three wickets and Mitchell two.
The Scorpions were 0/48 at stumps, with Mitchell 23 not out and Nick Taylor 24.
Gerringong/Jamberoo had a long day in the field, thanks to up-and-coming Rail batsman Kieran Gilly.
Chasing the combined side's 6/314, The Rail battled gamely to finish with 214, Gilly playing superbly to hold the innings together thanks to his 70 runs.
Gerringong/Jamberoo finished at 4/75 in their second innings.
Warilla Sports fought back to grab a well-deserved draw against Oak Flats.
The Rats set the reigning premiers a massive 319 to win and in the end good batting from Mick Perry (50), Callum De Bruin (44), Ben Cohen (40), Gavin McCauley (40) and captain Gerard Healey (32) allowed them to finish at 9-247. This was well short of the required tally, but they pocketed a vital extra five points for the difference between a first innings loss and a draw.
The competition will take a one-week break next Saturday for the Australia Day holiday.