GRANGE may be out of contention in the scramble to earn the mantle of Eastern Premiership champions, but Arbroath batsman Fraser Burnett believes the Edinburgh outfit can still play a significant part in the destiny of the honours.
Former skipper Burnett issued his verdict after the Lochlands men had romped to an emphatic home triumph over struggling SMRH and leaders Aberdeenshire had seized Granite City derby revenge against Stoneywood-Dyce.
So, to retain their title, second-placed Arbroath must hope that the Dons stumble over the last fortnight of the campaign – and Burnett believes this coming Saturday will be the crunch.
He explained: “It is going to be a very interesting day for everyone.
“Aberdeen will be heading for Raeburn Place to take on Grange and that is one of the toughest possible tasks in this league.
At the same time, we will have ground advantage when we face Watsonians.
“They are also a hard side to play against, but I believe we can do the job because we are starting to produce some very good cricket and we are showing why we were champions last year.
“Whatever happens, the fact that we have come up with such a strong challenge again is a great achievement by the club and I am very proud to be part of it.”
The outcome at Lochlands was never in doubt after Arbroath rattled up 302 for five, with three men hitting half centuries and one falling a single short.
Hamish Bartlett led the charge with 71, Greig Peal (59 not out) and Calvin Burnett (52) providing the main support.
Paceman Max Parker then rocked SMRH back on their heels by removing danger man Cedric English for only six.
The spinners then got to work, Craig Ramsay and Ross McLean sharing eight wickets to send the visitors slithering to 110 all out. Aberdeenshire’s win at Peoples Park was almost as convincing, the margin being seven wickets following Stoneywood-Dyce’s demise for 108.
Chris Venske guided the Mannofield men to victory with a calm, unbeaten 45.
Forfarshire’s shaky run continued as they were swept aside by Grange at Broughty Ferry.
Gordon Goudie (43) and Andrew Brock (34) carried the visitors to 232 for nine, which proved far too many for the hosts to deal with.
Raj Routray’s cheap three-wicket burst ruled out any prospect of a fightback and shire eventually crumbled to 101 all out.
A fine all-round performance by Scotland prospect Mark Watt set up Heriot’s for an easy success at the expense of Falkland at Goldenacre.
First, Watt struck 52 not out and then bagged four for 14 as the Fifers capitulated to 63 all out in pursuit of 173.
Fraser Watts continued his remarkable run of form by smashing another century, which inspired Carlton to glory against neighbours Watsonians at Grange Loan.