What a weekend for Premier Cricket! Round 13 saw plenty of highlights and last-gasp finishes as the Finals race gets even tighter. Highlights from the weekend included:
With only 2 rounds left stand between us and the Finals Series, anyone up to 12th (Ringwood) can still potentially make the Finals. From now on, every ball will have a say in how the Final 8 could shape up and clubs will be keeping a closer eye on scores from around the competition. This round is also the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation’s (VRGF) ‘Love the Game, Not the Odds’ round.
St Kilda (7th) take on Kingston Hawthorn (18th) at Harry Trott Oval. The Saints took it up to the Monash Tigers last weekend but came up empty-handed, while the Hawks were outplayed by Ringwood at home. The Saints will be keen for the batsmen to keep their strong batting form going (led by Josh Manning), with the bowlers a chance to pick up some wickets and confidence if they get their lines and lengths early. The Hawks will be keen to come away with some positives to develop on for season 2019/20 with their young line-up. Saints to start favourites at home.
Geelong (3rd) host Ringwood (12th) at the Geelong Cricket Ground. The Cats were lucky last week to get the points on the road and will be keen to capitalize on their good fortune at home. The Rams will be needing to pull off the upset to keep their faint chances of Finals alive. With conditions again expected to favour the batsmen in Geelong, it will put extra pressure on the bowling attacks to get the best out of themselves. Geelong to go in as favourites due to the home ground advantage.
Casey-South Melbourne (9th) will need to come out all guns blazing as they take on Essendon (2nd) at Casey Fields #4. With just 1-point separating them from the Top 8, the Swans will be aiming to throw everything they have at a Bombers line-up that is looking like it is the ‘real deal’ to compete for this season’s flag. If the Swans can quell the Bombers batting card to a score around 200 they are in with a chance, but the feeling is that the Bombers have too much of their top and middle order firing to get them out of trouble. Essendon to start favourites.
Dandenong (5th) host Footscray (17th) at Shepley Oval in the VRGF’s ‘Love the Game, Not the Odds’ Match of the Round. The Panthers are running into some form in the lead-up to Finals, while the Dogs are focusing on finishing on a high and take some positives into season 2019/20. Whilst the ladder positions may say otherwise, this game could be a tight affair as the Dogs have been quite competitive without the ‘rub of the green’ on a number of results this season. The Panthers at home will start as favourites on recent form.
Melbourne University (6th) host Fitzroy Doncaster (4th) at the University Main Oval. Uni will be looking to put the past two rounds behind them and extract some revenge from the same opponent who defeated them Outright last season in Round 16, while the Lions will be keen to break a 4-game losing streak since the Christmas break. Both sides are capable of anything on their day and will be keen to go ‘hammer and tong’ to push hard for these valuable points and look to cement where they finish in the Top 8. Melbourne University with the home ground advantage and recent form will start as favourites in this match.
Northcote (15th) host Carlton (1st) at Bill Lawry Oval. The Dragons put in a strong team batting effort last round but lacked someone that could push through for a big score on the day, while the Blues continued their strong campaign by defending 300 against Melbourne at home. The Dragons have struggled with their bowling attack across the season and this has been a key stumbling block that the Blues could capitalize on with their batting line-up. The Blues will start as favourites in this match.
The Camberwell Magpies (8th) host Melbourne (11th) at the Camberwell Sports Ground. The Magpies scraped through with the win last weekend against Melbourne University, while the Demons went down to a strong Carlton line-up. Both sides will see this as a ‘sudden death’ match as the winner will stay in the hunt for the Finals, while the loser may have to look to evaluate their season and play for pride in the last round. Expect this game to go down to the wire with the Magpies maybe just having their nose in front.
The Greenvale Kangaroos (16th) host the Monash Tigers (10th) at Greenvale Reserve #1. The Kangaroos were competitive against Dandenong but a lack of runs hurt them when aiming to defend, while the Tigers capitalized on the record breaking debut innings from Campbell Vadlja to defeat St Kilda at the Junction Oval. The Kangaroos have been far more competitive this season and have produced some strong games, while the Monash Tigers are making another late charge towards the Finals and will be keen to secure points here to help the cause. The Monash Tigers on recent form to start as favourites.
Finally, Prahran (13th) host Frankston Peninsula (14th) at Toorak Park on the 23rd and 24th February. Both sides are out of Finals contention unless there is an Outright result that may give them a sniff. The True Blues claimed a big scalp by consigning Fitzroy Doncaster to their 4th consecutive loss, while the Heat defeated Footscray in a close one for back-to-back wins. The True Blues have quite a strong batting line-up that has not always worked in sync, while the Heat are a more all-round side. This should be a good game, with the expectation that it will only result in 6 points to one of the teams. The True Blues to start favourites at home and based on their recent scalp.
In Women’s Premier 1sts, just 2 rounds remain and six sides are still in the hunt for the Final 4. Prahran are just about locked in, even though their result at the weekend went against them, while anywhere else is still reasonably fluid in positions.
Round 11 One Day action saw:
Round 12 has the potential to finalise the Top 4 pending on how results go across the weekend. For both Dandenong and Essendon Maribyrnong Park these games are ‘must win’ and they will do everything in their power to aim to come away with the points from their respective matches to keep their chances alive.
On Saturday, Essendon Maribyrnong Park (6th) host Prahran (1st) at Greaves Reserve #4 due to ground availabilities. For the Bombers the equation is simple – Win and they will keep their Finals chances alive, Lose and they will need to rely on other results to go their way to potentially sneak in the back door through the last round. The True Blues will be smarting at their upset loss to Plenty Valley and will be keen to rebound hard against their arch-rivals. With stakes high, expect this match to carry a lot of feeling for the Bombers and it could go down to the wire with Molly Strano, Makinley Blows and Chloe Rafferty up against Emma Inglis, Alana King and Annabel Sutherland. Gut feel says it could be within 20 runs for the end result.
On Sunday, Melbourne (2nd) host Dandenong (5th) at the Albert Ground. The Demons are secured in the Top 4 but can still swap positions with Box Hill if they lose and the Mustangs win against Ringwood. For the Panthers, their equation is the same as Essendon Maribyrnong Park - Win and they will keep their Finals chances alive, Lose and they will need to rely on other results to go their way to potentially sneak in the back door through the last round. The Demons have relied a lot on Amy Yates and Teagan Parker of late for their victories, while the Panthers have a lot of pressure fall on skipper Emma Gallagher, Chelsea Moscript and Maryam Omar. On paper, the Demons would have to start favourites.
Plenty Valley (4th) will be keen to keep their chances of a Finals berth alive when they take on Carlton-Brunswick (7th) at Yarrambat War Memorial Park. For the Bats their equation is as follows – if they win their game it goes a long way to securing a spot in the Top 4. If both Dandenong and Essendon Maribyrnong Park lose this weekend and they win, they are locked in the finals with at least a 6-point break on 5th place. If they lose and the other results go against them they could end up sitting as low as 6th come Sunday night. For the Strikers, while their Finals chances have now passed, they can still shape how the Finals make-up ends and will be feeling some external pressure on how they perform and whether they can upset the Bats. The big question will be around Ellie Mason for the Strikers – if she can get going with the bat, it will make things interesting. If she has another low score then it is advantage Plenty Valley.
Finally, Box Hill (3rd) host Ringwood (8th) at Box Hill City Oval. The Mustangs will be regretting the 5-run loss last round against Dandenong and will be keen to secure the points against the Rams and not be shunted around the ladder. At the same time, they will be watching the Melbourne-Dandenong match to see what happens in that game to see if Melbourne stay put or drop down the ladder. The Rams will be keen to secure another win and push hard to finish the season with some momentum to take into season 2019/20. Whilst Tess Flintoff and Kylie Walters have been leading the Rams’ charge the last few rounds, the Mustangs have far too much experience on paper and will have to be favourites at home.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket for the following recent and upcoming milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 14 – SATURDAY 16 & SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
ST KILDA V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Harry Trott Oval
Umpires C Grant & G Bawa
GEELONG V RINGWOOD at Geelong Cricket Ground
Umpires M van Eck & R Birch
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V ESSENDON at Casey Fields #4
Umpires G Azzopardi & S Pitts
DANDENONG V FOOTSCRAY at Shepley Oval
Umpires M Malmberg & A Medina
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V FITZROY DONCASTER at University Main Oval
Umpires D Brigham & A Hawking
NORTHCOTE V CARLTON at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires D Ireland & L Uthenwoldt
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V MELBOURNE at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires R Hubbard & S Olufson
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V MONASH TIGERS at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires B Sheahan & M Robertson
ROUND 14 – SATURDAY 23 & SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
PRAHRAN V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Toorak Park
Umpires R McKinnon & L Edwards
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 12 ONE DAY – SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK V PRAHRAN at Greaves Reserve #4
Umpires C James & M Muthugounder
ROUND 12 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 17 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
MELBOURNE V DANDENONG at Albert Ground
Umpires B Davies & J Leonard-Scott
PLENTY VALLEY V CARLTON-BRUNSWICK at Yarrambat War Memorial Park
Umpires M Robertson & W Downey
BOX HILL V RINGWOOD at Box Hill City Oval
Umpires J Richards & L Tenace