Round 14 has arrived after last weekend saw some upset results and some clubs all of a sudden come into Finals contention when they might have been seen to have ‘missed the boat’ only a couple of rounds ago.
Highlights from last weekend’s matches included:
The Men’s competitions return to the Saturday/Saturday rounds as the last two rounds come up in the lead-in to Finals. This round will likely shape the run of the last round of matches, with some clubs’ Finals campaigns to be over if results go the wrong way.
Dandenong (10th) host Melbourne (5th) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers continue to find their Finals chances alive after a strong win against the Monash Tigers to keep them just 4 points behind 8th placed Essendon, while the Demons are in the middle of the logjam of teams fighting for a Top 4 spot, with only 2 points separating them and 3rd place (currently held by Carlton). The Panthers have secured 17 points in the last 3 rounds, while the Demons broke a 2-game losing run with victory over Carlton and both sides will be keen to keep their chances alive. On current form, I expect this game to be closer than expected and feel that the home ground advantage may see the Panthers win it.
Prahran (7th) play Carlton (3rd) at Princes Park #1, with the match venue having been swapped due to Prahran hosting ‘Maddie’s Match’ at Toorak Park this Sunday for the Maddie Riewoldt Foundation. The True Blues kept their chances of breaking their recent Finals drought alive with victory over Frankston Peninsula, while the Blues dropped 1 spot on the ladder after losing to Melbourne. Both sides are currently missing members, with Cam Stevenson (USA representative) out for the Blues, while James Billington (injured) and Andrew Perrin (returning) missed last round for the True Blues. On current form, the advantage will have to go with the reigning Premiers to rebound from last weekend’s result.
Footscray (2nd) host Fitzroy Doncaster (13th) at Mervyn G Hughes Oval. The Dogs appear to have rebounded sharply from their horror run last season with another victory, this time over Ringwood, while the Lions were on the receiving end of a loss to their former ‘bunnies’ in recent seasons Melbourne University. The Dogs’ run has been all the more meritorious with the injuries they have experienced, with several bowlers out at present, while the Lions appear to be near full strength. The Lions still have a mathematical chance of making it but on current form this appears to be unlikely, with the Dogs taking in the home ground advantage. Dogs to win on current form.
The Greenvale Kangaroos (17th) host Frankston Peninsula (16th) at Greenvale Reserve #1. For both sides this could be their last chance to secure points for the season and give themselves some positives for planning for the 2020/21 season. Both sides have improved this season on the batting front, while the bowling has continued to be the weaker area for both sides. The key battle I see in this game will be between Brodie Symons (Heat) and Sean McNicholl (Kangaroos), with both young bowlers having the potential of being the match-winner for their side. On current form, I think the Kangaroos have a slight advantage playing at home to take the points in this match.
The Monash Tigers (15th) host Geelong (11th) at Central Reserve South. The Tigers were simply outclassed by Dandenong last round, while the Cats appear to have just about dashed their hopes of another Finals appearance, despite only being 5 points behind 8th placed Essendon. The young Tiger cubs have been on a learning curve this season and in most games have been quite competitive, which gives them positives for future seasons, while the Cats need to find a way to expose this if they want to keep their season alive. On current form, the Cats must find a way to push this game into Outright territory if they want to give themselves a genuine chance of playing Finals again.
The Camberwell Magpies (9th) host Essendon (8th) at Camberwell Sports Ground. On paper, this is a sudden-death game for both sides as the winner is likely to find themselves inside the top 8 and the loser fighting to keep it alive. The Bombers would have been left ruing their chances after having Northcote on the floor, only for the Dragons to roar out of nowhere on the last wicket, while the Magpies have rebounded strongly with an Outright over Kingston Hawthorn. Over the last 6 rounds, the Magpies have earnt 28 points to the Bombers 12 and this momentum might just be the thing that gets them a Top 8 position if they can contain the Bombers’ batting card early.
Northcote (4th) host Melbourne University (1st) at Bill Lawry Oval. Another clash that will shape the make-up of the Finals series, with Uni holding a 7-point buffer in top after defeating Fitzroy Doncaster last round, while Northcote pinched victory from the jaws of defeat against Essendon. Both sides have missed Finals for a few seasons and their current appearance inside the Top 8 is positive to see, with both sides capable of pushing their campaigns deep into the Finals series. On current form, I think Melbourne University might just have enough experience in their line-up to withstand the Dragons’ advances, despite the game being at the Dragon’s Lair.
Casey-South Melbourne (14th) host Ringwood (12th) at Casey Fields #4. The Swans had the better of the drawn game against the Greenvale Kangaroos, while the Rams were outclassed by a determined Footscray side, with the loss effectively ending their chances of Finals cricket this season. The Swans have been one of the better batting units in terms of output but have one of the weaker bowling line-ups in the competition, while the Rams have improved in the bowling this season. On paper, I feel that both sides are strong batting and the battle will go down to the bowling, where the Rams appear to have enough of an advantage to take the points.
Finally, St Kilda (6th) host Kingston Hawthorn (18th) at the Harry Trott Oval. The Saints are down the lower end of the position shuffle for spots between 2nd and 7th after their 2-wicket win over Geelong, while the Hawks were on the wrong end of an outright against the Camberwell Magpies. The Saints have been struggling a little with the batting, with no-one breaking out for a big innings but that could change against the Hawks attack, who has taken the fewest wickets in the competition this season but have been stronger with the bat. On current form, the Saints should win well and if they can find enough wickets, then an Outright result may not be off the table, along with a top 4 spot.
Women’s Premier Cricket is also quickly closing into Finals time, with only 3 rounds now left to play and pressure continuing to rise on finalizing the make-up of the Top Four.
Highlights from the weekend were:
Round 11 will see things heat up with 4th position still anyone’s to get at this stage, while the top 3 could still yet shuffle positions on the ladder during this time.
On Saturday, Essendon Maribyrnong Park (1st) host Prahran (2nd) at Aberfeldie Park in the top-of-the-table clash. Both sides will be keen to see where they sit against one another with just a couple of weeks’ left in the season and there will be no love lost on the field. Last time these sides met the True Blues won comfortably but with Annabel Sutherland in the Australian T20 squad for the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup (after scoring 107* in the previous encounter) there is a gap that must be filled. On current form, I would suggest the Bombers just have their nose in front due to the home ground advantage.
On Sunday, Melbourne (5th) host Carlton-Brunswick (8th) at the Albert Ground. Last time these two sides met the Strikers were bowled out for just 43 chasing 209 but there is a funny feeling that the tide may be turning. The Demons find themselves in a must-win game if they are to keep any pressure on Plenty Valley and their chance of Finals open, while the Strikers can still shape how the Finals run can go and are mathematically not out of the running just yet. With the Demons having only won 1 of their last 7 matches and the Strikers 1 of their last 8, this is even more crucial for the Demons to win and gut feel suggest home ground advantage will help them to do so.
Dandenong (7th) host Box Hill (3rd) at Shepley Oval. The Panthers have won 3 of their last 4 matches and will be keen to keep on doing so, while the Mustangs have not missed out on points from a match since their loss in Round 3 to Prahran. Last time these sides met, Rebecca Carter scored 156* out of 4/297 and the Panthers made 170 in reply. The big battle will be between the sides’ in-form players, Carter (Box Hill) and Irish representative Kim Garth (Dandenong), with the winner of the battle going a long way to their side’s chances. On current form, while the Panthers may have a chance of the upset, the gut feel suggests the Mustangs will take the points.
Finally, Ringwood (6th) host Plenty Valley (4th) at Russell Lucas Oval. Last time these two sides met, the Rams chased the Bats’ target of 186 down with 2 wickets in hand in the last over with Una Raymond-Hoey’s 97 the key performance. The Bats’ have only picked up 2 points in the last 4 rounds (compared to the Rams’ 8 points in the same timeframe) and find this as a must-win game with both Melbourne and Ringwood well and truly in the hunt for their position. One person that will need to step-up after a strong start to the campaign is Rams’ skipper Bhavisha Devchand and if the Rams win they will need her to fire. On gut feel, the Rams may just sneak home again in a close one.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
The following Milestones were achieved during play in the last weekend prior to Christmas:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 14 – SATURDAY 15 & SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
DANDENONG V MELBOURNE at Shepley Oval
Umpires D Ireland & G Bawa
PRAHRAN V CARLTON at Princes Park #1
Umpires S Pitts & R Birch
FOOTSCRAY V FITZROY DONCASTER at Mervyn G Hughes Oval
Umpires S Olufson & L Uthenwoldt
GREENVALE KANGAROOS V FRANKSTON PENINSULA at Greenvale Reserve #1
Umpires L McKay & R Hubbard
MONASH TIGERS V GEELONG at Central Reserve South
Umpires A Medina & L McCabe
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V ESSENDON at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires M van Eck & B Davies
NORTHCOTE V MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires J Leonard-Scott & M Malmberg
CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE V RINGWOOD at Casey Fields #4
Umpires W Downey & T Wendelken
ST KILDA V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Harry Trott Oval
Umpires B Sheahan & D Brigham
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 11 ONE DAY – SATURDAY 15 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
ESSENDON MARIBYRNONG PARK V PRAHRAN at Aberfeldie Park
Umpires G Azzopardi & V Calabro
ROUND 11 ONE DAY – SUNDAY 16 FEBRUARY (11:00am Start)
MELBOURNE V CARLTON-BRUNSWICK at Albert Ground
Umpires M Muthugounder & J Wyatt
DANDENONG V BOX HILL at Shepley Oval
Umpires R Harrison & R van der Merwe
RINGWOOD V PLENTY VALLEY at Russell Lucas Oval
Umpires R Turner & G Schembri