The completion of Week 2 of the Finals saw an exciting finish and a clinical display in the Men’s 1st XI, while there were plenty of tight results across the lower XIs over the weekend.
Highlights from last weekend’s action included:
Preliminary Final #1 will see the Minor Premiers in Carlton host Essendon at Princes Park #1. The last time these two sides met was in the rescheduled one-day match at the end of October, with Carlton claiming the points chasing Essendon’s target of 212 in the 41st over at Princes Park #1.
The Blues made the Preliminary Final after playing out for the Draw against last season’s premiers in Dandenong, while the Bombers defeated the Monash Tigers last weekend after being defeated by Geelong in the first weekend of Finals.
The Blues have been best led with the willow by keeper Brayden Stepien (697 runs @ 58.08), with quality support from Nicholas Ross (531 runs @ 48.27), Harrison Smyth (490 runs @ 40.83) and Thomas Smyth (392 runs @ 35.64). With the ball, the Blues have a number of quality options at their disposal, with left arm spinner Eddy O’Sullivan (36 wickets @ 18.14), Aaron Smillie (33 wickets @ 15.94), Cam Stevenson (29 wickets @ 22.69), Xavier Crone (17 wickets @ 27.12), Thomas Smyth (14 wickets @ 24.29) and skipper Evan Gulbis (10 wickets @ 37.40) all able to bowl quality spells and will look to rein in the Bombers’ top order batsmen.
The Bombers are in quality form with the bat, with Aaron Ayre last week becoming the first Bomber to score 1,000 1st XI runs in a Premier season (1,043 runs @ 61.35), while opening partner James Seymour (920 runs @ 54.12) and Michael Hill (687 runs @ 62.45) have also had very good seasons with the willow. With the ball, Matt Doric has been the Bombers’ best (39 wickets @ 24.21), with spinners Liam Bowe (24 wickets @ 37.96) and James Seymour (23 wickets @ 27.13) providing good support
With stakes this high, any missed chances will be magnified 10x larger and may be the difference in a win or a loss in this knock-out final. The Bombers have chased down some big targets this season and have the capacity to do so again, but the Blues will also be keen to not let this opportunity slip, especially on their home turf.
With the Bombers searching for their first flag since 1969/70 and their first Final appearance since the 2013/14 season, they will be keen to pull off the upset against the Minor Premiers, while the Blues will be keen to make their first Final appearance since the 2008/09 season, with the aim to bring the title home for the first time since the 1980/81 season.
Preliminary Final #2 will see Geelong host last season’s Grand Finalist in Fitzroy Doncaster at the Geelong Cricket Ground (both days starting at 9:30am due to the AFL match on the Saturday Night at GMHBA Stadium). The last time these two sides met was in a one-day match in Round 10, with the Cats winning by 7 wickets and securing a bonus point at Schramms Reserve #1.
The Cats made the Preliminary Final by upstaging Essendon at Windy Hill in the Qualifying Final, while the Lions have had to survive two ‘heart-stoppers’ this Finals campaign, with last-gasp victories over the Camberwell Magpies (1 wicket) in the Elimination Final, before defeating last season’s premiers Dandenong (9 runs) on the last ball of the Semi Final last weekend.
The Cats batting card this season has been led by Hayden Butterworth (612 runs @ 43.71), with Tim Ludeman (604 runs @ 46.46), skipper Eamonn Vines (526 runs @ 40.46) and Josh McDonald (436 runs @ 29.07) all taking control in certain matches across the season, while Thomas Jackson (296 runs @ 59.20) has scored 2 centuries in his debut 1st XI season in only 6 matches (107 on debut versus Northcote and 136 against Ringwood). With the ball, the Cats’ attack has been led by leg spinner and 2012/13 Ryder Medalist Brenton McDonald (40 wickets @ 19.85), with quicks Dom McGlinchey (28 wickets @ 25.89) and Jake Reed (25 wickets @ 27.32) providing quality support.
The Lions batting this season has been led by Jack Rudd (561 runs @ 33.00), with Nat Vardi (439 runs @ 27.44), Peter Dickson (416 runs @ 34.67), Liam Banthorpe (401 runs @ 36.45) and Noah Korkolis (395 runs @ 32.92) all providing handy knocks across the season. With the ball, the Lions have been best led by last season’s Ryder Medalist Trent Lawford (43 wickets @ 18.42), with Samuel Elliott (26 wickets @ 25.50), Chris Moore (25 wickets @ 22.84) and skipper Ejaaz Alavi (20 wickets @ 28.65) all providing support to the Lions spearhead.
With recent form and the home ground advantage, the Cats would appear to start as favourites to make their first Victorian Premier Cricket 1st XI Final since their one-off Grand Final appearance in the 2007/08 season, but would the recent results and momentum being carried by the Lions be enough to dethrone the home side and make their 4th consecutive Victorian Premier Cricket 1st XI Final? Time will tell.
In the lower XI’s, this weekend will see their Grand Finals played with the matches as follows:
The PCMT wishes all competing sides in the Lower XI Grand Finals the best of luck for this weekend and wish the Umpires selected for these games our best regards for these matches and to ‘see them well’.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket for the following recent and upcoming milestones:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
PRELIMINARY FINALS – SATURDAY 30 & SUNDAY 31 MARCH
CARLTON V ESSENDON at Princes Park #1 (10:30am Start)
Umpires G Joshua & D Shepard
GEELONG V FITZROY DONCASTER at Geelong Cricket Ground (9:30am Start)
Umpires P Gillespie & D Brigham
1st XI Reserve Umpire – D Ireland
LOWER XI GRAND FINALS – SATURDAY 30 & SUNDAY 31 MARCH
2nd XI GRAND FINAL – (10:30am Start)
ST KILDA V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Albert Ground
Umpires M Nolan & R Turner (Reserve Umpire: T Wendelken)
3rd XI GRAND FINAL - (11:30am Start)
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V FOOTSCRAY at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires L McCabe & M Gunn (Reserve Umpire: G Schache)
4th XI GRAND FINAL - (11:30am Start)
CARLTON V ESSENDON at Windy Hill
Umpires J Diamond-Smith & A Conradie (Reserve Umpire: M Wood)