Last weekend’s Round 15 matches saw the proverbial ‘cat amongst the pigeons’, with a wide mix of results displayed over the competition.
Round 15 saw batting collapses (Camberwell Magpies, Prahran, Dandenong, Greenvale), run feasts (Frankston Peninsula, Melbourne University, Melbourne), four Outright results and a high scoring draw (Ringwood v Frankston Peninsula).
The highlight of the round was the major upset by Kingston Hawthorn, winning by 9 wickets outright over Prahran at Toorak Park (where 26 wickets fell by Stumps on Saturday Night). St Kilda also ‘pinched’ the Outright over Dandenong at the Junction Oval on the second-last ball and the last wicket of the match. Carlton timed a fourth innings run-chase well to gain full points over Camberwell Magpies and Monash Tigers achieved a similar feat to gain the 10 points against Greenvale Kangaroos.
With just two rounds to go, a 7-point gap has now been created between 8th placed Melbourne University and 9th placed Melbourne. Monash Tigers sit another 2 points behind the Dees in 10th place. The fight for positions inside the Top 4 is still wide open, with just 4 points currently separating 3rd (Footscray) and 8th places.
This round’s action will see Melbourne Uni (8th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (1st) at the University Main Oval. Both teams are coming off strong victories and will be keen to maintain their form coming towards the pointy end of the season. Expect this match to be one of the matches of the round, with the Lions’ bowling attack to be the major difference in this game.
Kingston Hawthorn (15th), fresh off their Outright over Prahran will take on Footscray (3rd) at Walter Galt Reserve. The Bulldogs will be rueing Melbourne Uni’s performance with the blade on the Dogs' home track last weekend and will be keen to make amends against the Hawks. On the flipside, the Hawks have been highly competitive in recent games and will not make the task easy for the Dogs. Ladder position says Footscray, but worth keeping an eye on how the Hawks compete in this one.
Melbourne (9th) host Prahran (12th) at the Albert and will be keen to keep their chances of sneaking into the Top 8 alive. The True Blues’ chances of Finals ended last round with an upset Outright loss to Kingston Hawthorn and while no longer able to make the Finals, they can still shape it if they can beat the Dees. Recent batting form from Sam Harper says the Dees to win this one.
Geelong (7th) will host St Kilda (4th) at the Geelong Cricket Ground in what is expected to be a cracker of a game. Both sides come in off key victories last round and will be keen to keep themselves in the hunt for a Top 4 spot. Tough game to immediately pick a winner for and would think whoever bats first will need a score of 300 on Geelong’s fast outfield to have a chance of taking the points.
Frankston Peninsula (13th) will host Essendon (6th) at AH Butler Oval knowing that an opportunity for victory was missed last week against Ringwood falling one wicket short. The Bombers will also need to bounce back, having lost their first game since November to the Cats at Windy Hill. Both teams have some good run scorers, but Essendon’s bowling attack might be the difference here for this one.
Carlton (2nd) will host Ringwood (11th) at Princes Park, with the Blues now finding themselves 6 points clear of third-placed Footscray after last weekend’s Outright win over the Camberwell Magpies. Ringwood on the other hand held on for grim life in the last few minutes against Frankston Peninsula to secure a draw and will be keen to finish the year on a high. The battle of the leading batsmen, David King (Ringwood) and the Smyth brothers (Carlton) will be one to keep an eye on. Carlton at home would be favourites in this one.
Greenvale Kangaroos (18th) will be hosting Camberwell Magpies (14th) at Greenvale. Both sides are coming off Outright losses and will be looking to finish on a high. The Roos will be looking at containing an opposition batting line-up and need wickets to ease the pressure on their batting list. The Magpies look to be far stronger on paper with the bat (Simon Hill, Thomas Russ, Dylan Hodge) and ball (Brendan Drew and William Walker). After fighting back against Carlton with 232 in their 2nd innings, I would look at the Magpies to be favourites.
Casey-South Melbourne (17th) host the Monash Tigers (10th) at Casey Fields. The Swans put up a commendable performance against top-placed Fitzroy Doncaster having had the Lions 3/13 chasing 211, while the Tigers produced a strong performance against Greenvale to take the 10 points at home. This could be a match that will be a lot closer than the ladder positions indicate.
Finally, Dandenong (5th) will host Northcote (16th) at Shepley Oval. This will also be a Pink Stumps Day for the McGrath Foundation hosted by the Panthers. Northcote will be keen for run-maker Ben Abbatangelo to return to the side after Victorian representative duties at the recent National Indigenous Cricket Championships (NICC) in Alice Springs. Dandenong were very unlucky to not effect a Reverse Outright on the Saints last round. Dandenong look far too strong on paper with Tom Donnell, Brett Forsyth, James Nanopoulos and Jak Jowett in good form, but expect Northcote to put up a fight on the road.
Women’s Premier Cricket will recommence in the One Day format after last weekend’s T20 Grand Finals at Harry Trott Oval. Congratulations go to EMP in taking out the double on the day, while Carlton-Brunswick and Melbourne can certainly hold their heads up high after magnificent campaigns in the T20 format in their respective sections.
Round 7 of the One Day games will see a rematch of last Saturday’s T20 Grand Final between Melbourne (3rd) and EMP (1st) at the Albert. Melbourne took the points last time these teams met in the opening round (chasing a target of 50), so an upset is not off the cards by any stretch. Expect the Dees to be fired up after missing out last weekend on the big stage. This should be a good game – too close to call.
Box Hill (4th) will host Dandenong (5th) at Box Hill City Oval with both sides keen to gain points to start the run home. Dandenong’s chances will hinge on the likes of Chelsea Moscript, while Box Hill will look to Hayleigh Brennan and Zoe Griffiths to help them gain the points. Box Hill to win at home and lock the Top 4 teams on the ladder.
Prahran (2nd) will host Plenty Valley (6th) at Toorak Park, with the True Blues keen to make up for a tough T20 campaign. A win to the True Blues and a loss to EMP can see Prahran sit on top come Sunday night, while Plenty Valley will need early wickets to have any chance to produce the upset of the round.
Congratulations to the following members of the Premier Cricket competition for recent and upcoming milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 16 – SATURDAY 17 & SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V FITZROY DONCASTER at University Main Oval
Umpires D Brigham & S Pitts
KINGSTON HAWTHORN V FOOTSCRAY at Walter Galt Reserve
Umpires D Ireland & G Azzopardi
MELBOURNE V PRAHRAN at Albert Ground
Umpires D Shepard & R McKinnon
GEELONG V ST KILDA at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires R Birch & G Bawa
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V ESSENDON at AH Butler Oval
Umpires V Borg & S Olufson
CARLTON V RINGWOOD at Princes Park #1 Ground
Umpires M Hanton & B Sheahan
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V CAMBERWELL at Greenvale Reserve
Umpires R Hubbard & S Brne
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V MONASH TIGERS at Casey Fields #4
Umpires A Barrow & M Muthugounder
DANDENONG V NORTHCOTE at Shepley Oval
Umpires M Cervetto & C James
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS ONE DAY
ROUND 7 – SUNDAY 18 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
MELBOURNE V ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK at Albert Ground
Umpires R Harrison & S Awekar
BOX HILL V DANDENONG at Box Hill City Oval
Umpires R Turner & S Fishley
PRAHRAN V PLENTY VALLEY at Toorak Park
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & L McCabe