What a cracker of a last round we have for us in store! Just 5 points separate 5th and 10th positions after Round 16 and any of those teams can still fail to finish inside the Top 8 pending on how results all go over the next two Saturdays.
Round 16 saw Fitzroy Doncaster just about sewn up top position thanks to their Outright win over Melbourne Uni thanks to Chris Moore (4/17) and Trent Lawford (5/9) taking 9/26 between them in Uni’s 2nd Innings.
Carlton decided to preserve their bowlers and get batting practice against Ringwood with Donovan Pell (94), Harrison Smyth (53) and Thomas Smyth (43) all getting key time in the middle prior to the finals.
Footscray were upset by Kingston Hawthorn. The Hawks can thank Ryan Ninan’s 5/32 in seeing them home and collecting another higher-positioned scalp on the run home.
Geelong were held at bay against St Kilda with the draw being the result down the highway. Brody Couch (4/42) starring for the Cats, while Jarrod Munday (67*) and Ben Davies (65) let the Saints batting.
Greenvale fought hard against Camberwell Magpies with Ryan Stingel (104) superb in only his 2nd Premier 1st XI match, but Camberwell eventually came away with the points with a team bowling performance.
Essendon came back from Frankston with the points, but not without a fight from Tom Wood (103) and Liam Tonkin (54). Nishal Perera (5/72) proved to be the match winner for the Bombers.
Peter Cassidy (6/30) tore the Northcote batting card apart, handing Dandenong the win. Elliot Brandon-Jones (69) provided some fight on his Premier 1st XI debut for Northcote while his teammates fell around him.
Melbourne chased down Prahran’s target of 344 thanks to Blake Thomson (166*) and Meyrick Buchanan (65). Will Sutherland (3/69) caused some early issues but could not see them over the line.
Finally, Monash Tigers jumped inside the Top 8 with an Outright over Casey-South Melbourne thanks to Daniel Sartori (83), Sam Taylor (68), debutant Liam Fernando (5/31) and Dominic Matarazzo (3/18).
Round 17 will commence with Fitzroy Doncaster (1st) taking on Kingston Hawthorn (15th) at Schramms Reserve #1. The Lions’ line-up is looking in top form and timing their run nicely coming into the Finals, but the Hawks have taken a couple of quality scalps in the last couple of rounds with wins over Prahran (Outright) and Footscray (1st Innings). Form says the Lions to win but expect the Hawks to put up a strong showing to finish off their season.
Footscray (5th) take on Melbourne (10th) at Mervyn G Hughes Oval. The equation for both teams is simple: Win and secure a spot in the Top 8, Lose and expect to see the end of your season. Since the change of coaches after Round 10, Melbourne has been on a 6-game winning streak, while the Dogs have dropped their last two against Melbourne Uni and Kingston Hawthorn (both involving run chases). While Footscray have the home ground advantage, Melbourne has the better recent form and would go in as favourites.
Northcote (16th) take on Prahran (12th) at Bill Lawry Oval. Both sides have not won since the rescheduled Round 13 one day matches and would be keen to finish their seasons with a win and something to build on for next season. Prahran’s batting form from last round in setting Melbourne 344 to chase might be the difference in this match.
Monash Tigers (7th) take on Melbourne University (9th) at Central Reserve North. This game also takes on the same scenario as the Footscray-Melbourne match with the winner to secure a spot in the Finals and season over for the loser. Uni’s strong recent form hit a major hurdle with the outright loss to leaders Fitzroy Doncaster last round, while the Tigers continued their push to sneak in the Top 8 with an outright win over the Swans. Expect this to be a good game, but the Tigers may just start ahead as favourites.
Camberwell Magpies (11th) take on Casey-South Melbourne (17th) at Camberwell Sports Ground. The Magpies performed well against a very competitive Greenvale side last round, while the Swans lost to the Monash Tigers outright after a 2nd Innings collapse. Both sides want to take out positives from this match to plan for season 2018/19, but the Magpies will start as favourites for this one due to their more experienced line-up.
Ringwood (13th) will take on Greenvale Kangaroos (18th) at Greenvale Reserve. The Rams will be keen to finish on a high after last round’s effort at Princes Park, while Greenvale will be keen to capitalise on the momentum from their batting effort against Camberwell. Both sides have struggled during the season in their bowling attacks and will be keen for their bowlers to fire in the last match. This is a game that could see either side favourites but the experience of the Rams line-up may just get the edge.
Essendon (4th) take on Carlton (2nd) at Windy Hill with both sides keen to finalise form prior to the Finals commencing. The Bombers defended 344 last round and will be keen to win to secure a Top 4 position, while Carlton cannot be dislodged from 2nd unless they lose and Dandenong or Essendon get an Outright result (the latter result would then go to percentages to determine positions). Both teams have good batting and bowling options and is a hard game to pick a winner for.
St Kilda (6th) take on Frankston Peninsula (14th) at Harry Trott Oval. For the Saints, a win will secure a Finals berth while a loss could see season over pending other results. The Heat were gallant in their previous match against Essendon, with a competitive effort in an unsuccessful run chase, while St Kilda had to hang on for the draw for the 2nd time in 3 rounds on the road in Geelong. Saints to start favourites but it could go either way very easily.
The final match sees Dandenong (3rd) host Geelong (8th) at Shepley Oval. This is yet another match that can determine the final shaping of the Top 8. The Panthers came out with a good win against Northcote last round, while the Cats had the better end of a draw with St Kilda at home. Geelong’s batting line-up will need to work hard against the strong Panther attack and will then be keen to disrupt the Panthers top order if they are to win and stay in the finals race. With the Saints and Bombers beating the Panthers in recent rounds, this is not out of the question for the Cats but the road trip to Shepley Oval may say otherwise.
Round 8 of Women’s Premier Cricket saw EMP take the points on the on the road with victory over Plenty Valley at Yarrambat. Molly Strano (35* & 2/11) and Kristen Beams (10/6/4/9) doing the damage, while Jacinta Goodger-Chandler (3/9) made EMP work to chase the target of 96. EMP now have a 5-point lead on 2nd placed Box Hill
Box Hill pinched a 10-run win at Toorak Park over Prahran thanks to Anna Lanning (68) with the bat and a ‘team’ bowling effort. Tiana Atkinson (36*) and Emma Inglis (25) were Prahran’s best with the willow while Gemma Triscari (3/22) and Alana King (3/29) the pick of the bowlers.
Finally, Dandenong fought hard at home on Greaves Reserve but Melbourne took the points back to the Albert with a 2-wicket win chasing 139. Sophie Molineux (46) showed her batting form that has seen selection into the Australian Women’s upcoming tour of India and Chelsea Moscript (3/35) was bowling well, but the Demons countered with Breannon Sutton (4/24) and Amy Vine (45) to sneak home.
Round 9 of the One Day games will see EMP (1st) host Dandenong (6th) on Saturday at Aberfeldie Park. With EMP’s state representatives back for the rest of the season, they look quite strong on paper, while Dandenong may have seen the last of Sophie Molineux for the summer with the Australian Women’s side to begin games in India on the 6th March. This loss will put extra burden on the likes of Nicole Faltum, Emma Gallagher and Chelsea Moscript to perform. The Bombers favourites here.
Sunday’s action will see Melbourne (3rd) at home against neighbours Prahran (4th). Both sides had some close games last week and there could be another one here on Sunday. Both sides have several handy bowling options to call upon, but the strength of the batting line-ups could be where the match is won or lost. On paper, Prahran would go in favourites on the strength of their batting line-up, but the match could easily go either way.
Box Hill (2nd) will make the road trip to Yarrambat to play Plenty Valley (5th). The Mustangs are looking good with Anna Lanning showing form with the bat and several of their bowlers hitting their straps, but an upset loss here could see them drop a spot. Plenty Valley will be looking for some players to step up and support the likes of Providence Cowdrill, Megan Ciavarella, Kiara Jones and Jacinta Goodger-Chandler. Box Hill to be favourites in this one.
Congratulations to the following members of the Premier Cricket competition for recent and upcoming milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 17 – SATURDAY 3 & SATURDAY 10 MARCH (11:00am Start)
FITZROY DONCASTER V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Schramms Reserve #1
Umpires S Brne & R McKinnon
FOOTSCRAY V MELBOURNE at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires B Sheahan & D Brigham
NORTHCOTE V PRAHRAN at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires G Azzopardi & R Hubbard
MONASH TIGERS V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Central Reserve North
Umpires M Hanton & F Fabris
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires V Borg & G Bawa
RINGWOOD V GREENVALE KANGAROOS at Greenvale Reserve
Umpires M van Eck & C James
ESSENDON V CARLTON at Windy Hill
Umpires R Birch & D Ireland
ST KILDA V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Harry Trott Oval
Umpires A Hawking & M Cervetto
DANDENONG V GEELONG at Shepley Oval
Umpires B Davies & M Muthugounder
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS ONE DAY
ROUND 9 – SATURDAY 3 MARCH (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK V DANDENONG at Aberfeldie Park
Umpires S Pitts & C Hall
ROUND 9 – SUNDAY 4 MARCH (11:00am Start)
MELBOURNE V PRAHRAN at Albert Ground
Umpires A Thomas & S Fishley
PLENTY VALLEY V BOX HILL at Yarrambat War Memorial Park
Umpires R Harrison & L McCabe