The completion of Week 1 of the Finals saw a wide range of results. With the new Finals System in place for the Men’s 1st XI competition, Carlton and Geelong have both earnt the weekend off as a reward for their results in last weekend’s Qualifying Finals, while the Finals campaigns of both the Camberwell Magpies and St Kilda came to an end at the hands of Fitzroy Doncaster and the Monash Tigers respectively in the Elimination Finals.
Highlights from last weekend’s action included:
Semi Final #1 will see a rematch of last season’s Grand Final, with Dandenong taking on Fitzroy Doncaster at the Camberwell Sports Ground. The Lions will be playing with incentive as wicket keeper Liam Banthorpe will play his 100th Premier 1st XI match but may miss Andrew Perrin again after withdrawing in the warm-ups in last weekend’s thriller over the Camberwell Magpies. The Panthers are not guaranteed of James Wilcock due to injury due to a strained hamstring but if he is deemed fit to play he will also play his 100th Premier 1st XI match. These sides last met in Round 12 (26th January & 2nd February) with the Panthers coming out on top at Shepley Oval.
The big match-up in this do-or-die clash will be between Dandenong’s in-form opening duo Brett Forsyth (982 runs @ 75.54) and skipper Tom Donnell (727 runs @ 45.44) against last season’s Ryder Medalist Trent Lawford (39 wickets @ 18.79), up-and-comer Sam Elliott (24 wickets @ 25.33), Chris Moore (23 wickets @ 23.09) and Lions’ skipper Ejaaz Alavi (20 wickets @ 27.60). If the Lions get through this strong opening pair then they will still need to get through James Nanopoulos (455 runs @ 50.56) to keep the Panthers to a score that is gettable.
For the Lions, Jack Rudd (526 runs @ 32.88) has stood up this season at the top of the order while evergreen Peter Dickson (413 runs @ 37.55), Nat Vardi (405 runs @ 27.00) and Noah Korkolis (378 runs @ 34.36) have also been consistent and will need to capitalize on the Panthers attack led by Nanopoulos (29 wickets @ 19.28), Akshat Buch (23 wickets @ 31.09), James Wilcock (if fit – 18 wickets @ 22.94), Jakeb Thomas (15 wickets @ 37.27) and Peter Cassidy (12 wickets @ 28.75).
While the Lions may have more consistency across the board, based on recent form the Panthers will have the advantage after winning their last 5 games (compared to the Lions winning 2 of their last 6) but expect this one to be fought tooth-and-nail to the last ball.
Who will reach the exclusive 1,000 runs in a Premier season first? Brett Forsyth (Dandenong - left) or Aaron Ayre (Essendon - right)?
Semi Final #2 will see Essendon take on the Monash Tigers at Windy Hill. The Bombers will be keen to rebound hard after being outplayed by Geelong last weekend at Windy Hill to break their run of 6 consecutive wins, while the Tigers will be coming into the game with confidence after ending St Kilda’s chances in a dominant display at Casey Fields #4. The last time these two sides met was in Round 15, with the Bombers taking the points after making 384 batting first at Central Reserve North.
For the Bombers, the batting card has been led strongly by the ‘big three’ of Aaron Ayre (949 runs @ 59.31), James Seymour (827 runs @ 51.69) and Michael Hill (668 runs @ 60.73). There has also been support from Aaron Shellie (286 runs @ 35.75), Isaac Willett (346 runs @ 34.60) and Justin Galeotti (281 runs @ 56.20) to help the Bombers to achieve some large totals across the season. With the ball, quick Matt Doric (39 wickets @ 22.95) is the lynchpin with support from spinners Seymour (22 wickets @ 26.91) and Liam Bowe (20 wickets @ 41.70). The lack of form from another quick is of some concern and may be an incentive for the Bombers’ leaders to have them fire up.
For the Tigers, the batting has largely fell on the shoulders of skipper Dan Sartori (616 runs @ 36.24), with support from Jake Fraser-McGurk (409 runs @ 34.08), keeper Scott Edwards (355 runs @ 27.31) and opener Campbell Vadlja (307 runs @ 76.75). With the ball, the Tigers have far more depth at hand with Blade Baxter (29 wickets @ 18.76), Marcus Berryman (26 wickets @ 24.62), Dominic Matarazzo (21 wickets @ 13.95), Thomas O’Connell (19 wickets @ 33.95) and Mitch Perry (14 wickets @ 23.21) all capable of chipping in for wickets.
Based on recent form and the strength of the two sides, the Bombers will have the advantage with the form of their top and middle order and would appear to go in as favourites into this match, but I would not discount the Tigers if they can keep the Bombers to a score of around 200.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket for the following recent and upcoming milestones:
Round 15 Milestones
Elimination/Qualifying Finals Milestones
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
SEMI FINALS – SATURDAY 23 & SUNDAY 24 MARCH (11:00am Start)
DANDENONG V FITZROY DONCASTER at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires D Ireland & D Shepard
ESSENDON V MONASH TIGERS at Windy Hill
Umpires D Brigham & M van Eck
1st XI Reserve Umpire - G Azzopardi