AFTER exceptional performances in round 16, the Muswellbrook sides found things a little tougher at the weekend.
Brook Blue had the bye, but Souths and Silver Slugs were made to brave the rain-affected pitches and struggled to have an impact on them.
The former was always facing an uphill battle, as they played top-of-the-table Belmore Bulls away in Scone, and runs were hard to come by despite playing on the synthetic pitch at Saunders Oval.
Albeit opener Steve Unicomb didn't seem to mind, scoring 80 of his side's 114 runs.
It's not an awful total considering they only had seven batsman, but it is poor when you take into consideration the fact they were 1 for 111.
The innings collapsed quickly with leading wicket taker Ben Crackett taking 2 wickets for the Bulls, Gavin Newton-Smith and Chris Knight claiming 1 and Kyle Mclennan and Nathan Crackett running out Cameron Eckersley and Ian King respectively.
Their score was caught in just 22 overs making the result pretty one-sided, although the aforementioned Newton-Smith was adamant the man of the match crown still belonged to Unicomb.
Silver Slugs fared marginally better away against Aberdeen, making 164 in their pursuit of 218, before being dismissed in the 34th over.
Aberdeen weren't looking like making a high total, but number 8 bat Manu Sharma bailed them out with a powerful 67 that contained numerous boundaries.
The Muswellbrook side have proven themselves capable of making scores over 200 so far this season, but the home side's Nathan Connor ensured that would't happen by taking 4 for 30, and bowling all 8 of his overs.
Silver have leapfrogged Brook Blue on the ladder due to the two points collected for a loss in the Upper Hunter District Cricket Association, but their cross town rivals have a game in hand, as both race for B grade finals spots.
Souths are still glued to the bottom of the ladder, but a win in the final few rounds could potentially lift them over Bunnan.