Round 15 of Victorian Premier Cricket commenced well but unfortunately the weather gods had the final say, with all matches being abandoned after anywhere from 20 overs to a completed 50-over innings played.
In the play that was able to be achieved, standout performances came from Carlton captain-coach Evan Gulbis (106) and Dandenong’s James Nanopoulos (3/14 off 10) at Shepley Oval, Casey-South Melbourne opener Ashley Chandrasinghe (103*) and keeper Devin Pollock (82) cashed in at Casey Fields against Ringwood, while Greenvale Kangaroos quick Darcy Bell (6/22) dominated against Northcote despite the efforts of Victorian state representative Matt Short (53) with the bat, recent Victorian one day debutant Todd Murphy (4/26) spun a web against Richmond despite Yash Pedenkar’s resistance (63) and Glenn Maxwell fronted up for Fitzroy Doncaster against Kingston Hawthorn and starred with ball in hand (4/35).
With just two rounds now available in the Home & Away season, the last couple of Finals positions are up for grabs and this weekend’s results could have a large say in how the Top 8 finishes up, with the potential of the Top 8 sides even being ‘locked away’ based on how results go this weekend.
This weekend’s fixtured matches for Round 16 are as follows:
Fitzroy Doncaster (6th) host Geelong (4th) at Schramms Reserve #1. The Lions welcomed back ‘Maxy’ last week and will want him available in this must-win encounter for both sides. Whilst the Cats have been the biggest scoring team this season (still just over 100 runs ahead of Carlton), there is still question marks about the strength of their bowling attack minus Dom McGlinchey (back). Will the Cats have enough firepower with the ball to overcome the Lions? My gut feel says not this time.
Northcote (8th) host Kingston Hawthorn (17th) at Bill Lawry Oval. This is a must-win game for the Dragons if they want to play finals as a slip-up here could see them knocking to get back in with one round to play. The Hawks will need to find some inspiration from their past efforts to bring out their best if they want to finish their season strongly and have a large say in who will make the Top 8. On paper, the Dragons have the advantage but must be switched-on from the start if they want points.
The Camberwell Magpies (15th) host Melbourne (2nd) at Camberwell Sports Ground. It has been a year of rebuilding for the Magpies and been far more competitive since the commencement of the new year, while the Demons will be looking to take the points in this game to secure the club the ‘double’ in the Club Championship this season. On paper, the Demons are expected to use this game to fine-tune operations before the Finals series and should win this game.
Essendon (10th) host Dandenong (5th) at Windy Hill. The equation has become very simple now for the Bombers – win to keep their Finals hopes alive and pray for results to go their way, lose and season 2020/21 will end next weekend. Standing in their way is a determined Panthers side who will be keen to take the points and look to secure a Top 4 position with home final in Week 1. On paper, this game has the scope to go either way but recent form suggests the Panthers on the road.
Melbourne University (9th) host Richmond (13th) at the University Main Oval. Another side that the equation has become very simple now for the Bombers – win to keep their Finals hopes alive and pray for results to go their way, lose and season 2020/21 will end next weekend unless one of Northcote, St Kilda or Fitzroy Doncaster also lose this weekend. The Tigers are young and green but have the scope to pull off the upset, but I feel the determination of Uni might sneak them home.
Carlton (1st) host Casey-South Melbourne (14th) at Princes Park #1. The Blues have been the in-form team all year and will be keen to keep the top spot after this game. The Swans have again seen another year of development but with some fresh blood coming through have the potential to push higher up the table next season. With Evan Gulbis finding some form with the willow for the hosts, will this week see a return to form for partner-in-crime Brayden Stepien? Blues favourites at home.
Frankston Peninsula (18th) host Ringwood (11th) at AH Butler Oval. The Heat will be licking their lips to pull off another upset after the weather ended their chances of a second win for the year when only chasing 83 for victory against Essendon. The Rams will want to finish off strong but will need to find some more with the ball after Casey-South Melbourne ‘cruised’ to a score of 3/271 against them last weekend. On paper, the Rams should take the points if they work together as a team.
Prahran (3rd) host Footscray (12th) at Toorak Park. The True Blues will be keen to chalk another win on the board to secure a Top 4 spot and hosting rights for Week 1 of the Finals. Standing in their way is Footscray, who will want to finish their season with some momentum to carry into season 2021/22 planning. With the True Blues finding their gears in recent rounds and Andrew Perrin returning from suspension, the Dogs will have their work cut out for them. True Blues at home.
Finally, St Kilda (7th) host the Greenvale Kangaroos (16th) at the CitiPower Centre. The Saints face themselves with a must-win game as any slip of the pedal could see them finish outside the Top 8 and potentially missing Finals. The Kangaroos will be keen to finish on a high and an opportunity to play on the CitiPower might spur them on after a possible upset opportunity was thwarted by the weather last weekend. On paper, the Saints should have few problems coming away with the points.
In Women’s Premier Cricket, we have reached the ‘Holy Grail’ of the season – the Grand Finals for the Women’s 1st & 2nd XI competitions. Both games commence at 10:30am.
In the Women’s Premier 1st XI competition, Dandenong (3rd) take on Box Hill (4th) at the CitiPower Centre after both sides pulled out the ‘underdog’ card last weekend and defeated their opponents in EMP (5 runs) and Melbourne (6 wickets) respectively to make their way to ‘the big dance’.
The Panthers have been in some strong form with the bat but may be without team leaders Nicole Faltum (185 @ 23.13, 3 catches/1 stumping) and Kim Garth (445 @ 44.50, 15 @ 20.33, 6 catches) on Victorian duties, which could severely impact their batting strength and the loss of a key bowling plank. If these two are missing, then the batting will fall on the shoulders of Tiana Atkinson (466 @ 33.29) and former Victorian representative Kelly Applebee (228 @ 22.80) to largely find runs. With the ball, the Panthers will have some cover with Emma ‘Gags’ Gallagher (21 @ 17.00) and Poppy Gardner (16 @ 24.13) leading the attack this season.
The Mustangs have really had a quiet season and planning may be somewhat impacted with Anna Lanning (149 @ 29.80) expected to be representing Victoria as a contracted player and Madeleine Clayton being suspended for Dissent after last weekend’s loss to Ringwood in the 2nd XI. This will leave a lot of weight on the shoulders of all-rounder Zoe Griffiths (443 @ 36.92, 22 @ 15.86, 3 catches), with Tahlia Meier (206 @ 22.89) and keeper Lara Shannon (172 @ 19.11, 10 catches, 2 stumpings) the next best with the blade this season. With the ball, expect the mix of former State rep and Betty Wilson medalist Hayleigh Brennan (8 @ 22.25), skipper Dani Montague (19 @ 17.84), Isabel White (18 @ 10.28) and Holly Spencer (11 @ 31.00).
This game has the scope to go either way with the variety in the Mustangs’ attack against the all-round line-up of the Panthers. If the Panthers are near full-strength, they would go in with the advantage but gut feel says the Mustangs would take ‘Aggie’ home if they can find any chink in the Panthers line-up.
In the Women’s Premier 2nd XI competition, Melbourne (1st) take on Ringwood (3rd) at the Beaumaris Secondary College – North Oval.
The Demons have been the form side all year and will be keen to secure another title but facing them is a Rams side that did defeat the Demons the last time the two sides met.
The Demons’ line-up looks to be very strong on paper, with Hasrat Gill (449 @ 49.89), Charlotte Killeen (376 @ 53.71) and Annecy Homberg (256 @ 51.20) all firing with the bat and in the top 5 run scorers for the season, while Gill (18 @ 13.00), Jordan Watson (17 @ 13.35) and Kampi Nainhabo (13 @ 12.69) lead their bowling attack’s wicket takers this season.
The Rams’ line-up by contrast appears to be a more unified setup, with Tegan Rule (197 @ 17.91), Meg Thompson (187 @ 46.75) and Hayley McLaughlin (175 @ 17.50) their leading scorers, while the cream of their attack is led by skipper Deb Loughnan (19 @ 13.84), with ex-Dee Breannan Harris (16 @ 15.94), Jordyn Doevelaar (16 @ 16.25) and Chloe Blacker (15 @ 14.27) all in the top 10 wicket takers for the season.
Based on form, whilst the Rams have the recent ‘wood’ over the Demons, I expect they will come in as underdogs with the Demons to go in as favourites on their home track.
These games will be live scored and live streamed via the Victorian Premier Cricket Match Centre for those that are unable to make the journey to either venue.
Congratulations go to the following members within Premier Cricket:
MEN’S PREMIER 1STS
ROUND 16 – SATURDAY 20 MARCH (11:00am Start)
FITZROY DONCASTER V GEELONG at Schramms Reserve #1
Umpires V Calabro & M van Eck
NORTHCOTE V KINGSTON HAWTHORN at Bill Lawry Oval
Umpires S Pitts & T Wendelken
CAMBERWELL MAGPIES V MELBOURNE at Camberwell Sports Ground
Umpires D Brigham & B Sheahan
ESSENDON V DANDENONG at Windy Hill
Umpires D Ireland & M Muthugounder
MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY V RICHMOND at University Main Oval
Umpires C Grant & J Leonard-Scott
CARLTON V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE at Princes Park #1
Umpires R Birch & R Hubbard
FRANKSTON PENINSULA V RINGWOOD at AH Butler Oval
Umpires G Bawa & A Medina
PRAHRAN V FOOTSCRAY at Toorak Park
Umpires M Malmberg & S Olufson
ST KILDA V GREENVALE KANGAROOS at CitiPower Centre
Umpires W Downey & L McKay
WOMEN’S PREMIER 1STS
GRAND FINAL – SUNDAY 21 MARCH (10:30am Start)
DANDENONG V BOX HILL at CitiPower Centre
Umpires G Azzopardi & L McCabe (Reserve Umpire V Calabro)
WOMEN’S PREMIER 2NDS
MELBOURNE V RINGWOOD at Beaumaris SC – North Oval
Umpires B Davies & S Fishley (Reserve Umpire N Davies)