Pre-finals testers in Horsham games
Intensity is set to lift markedly in Horsham Cricket Association as teams enter the final home-and-away round before finals.
Cricket fans will gain insight into the form of teams preparing for the season play-offs, with top playing second and third playing fourth in games starting on Saturday.
An old saying is that more than 90 percent of cricket is played between the ears and all sorts of psychological advantages are up for grabs in the next fortnight.
Capturing much of the pre-finals interest will be a clash between Homers and their fierce contemporary rival RupanyupMinyip at Horsham Sunnyside oval.
Homers have almost been coasting towards the season end, pulling out the big performances when needed, while Rupanyup-minyip had to bludgeon its way back onto the winners list last game, courtesy of the blade of Paul Morgan.
Homers are flag favourites and therefore also favourites on their home turf to beat the Blue Panthers.
A crushing win by the Pigeons, who appear to have all bowling and batting bases covered, would almost place them on a seemingly immovable pedestal.
The Homers list is littered with all-rounders from Simon and Chris Hopper and Lachie Jones with their finger spin to Jarred Combe with the new ball.
Then there’s Sandy Hodge at the top of the order, Marcus Williamson and Adam Atwood hitting form with the bat and Eddie Landwehr bowling a tight left-arm line.
The Pigeons were too good for Jung Tigers last week, Simon Hopper hitting a secondinnings ton as the side attempted a points haul while using a first-innings win to consolidate form.
At the same time, Rupanyup-minyip cantered to victory over Laharum at Minyip, its 339 far too many for the Mountain Men to chase.
In the end, despite a 59 from Ben Peucker and 38 to Dan Mibus, the visitors were all out for 144, Ryan Metelmann the destroyer with 4-51 and Jonty Funcke snaring 3-24.
Will veteran Paul Morgan be able to repeat his devastated touch with the bat against Homers?
Or will it be the likes of Dan Clark, Matt Downer, Clint Midgley, Daniel Schaper or wildcard Travis Hair who take it up to the Pigeons? Perhaps Leigh Funcke or Glenn Morgan?
Another fascinating clash will emerge between Jung Tigers and Horsham Saints with both sides desperate to find winning form at Horsham City Oval before the finals.
The Tigers came a gutzer against Homers but provided a glimpse of their long batting list with a solid second-innings knock headed by leg-spinning all-rounder Angus Adams. Adams made an unbeaten century after taking three wickets and with Brett Jensz, 28 and 64, in good touch, Conor Lawson, Sam Leith, Steve Leith, Tyler Neville and Rowan Scott, if available, need to make runs when it counts.
The Tigers still rely too heavily on David Puls with the ball but have emerging left-arm talent in Josh Leith and Tyler Puls.
Horsham Saints, like the Tigers, need to spend more time batting to make a competitive score and came unstuck against a willing Blackheathdimboola.
The Saints tried to defend 121 against a determined Bulls batting side, which finished the game with 9-243, a variety of batsmen enjoying time in the middle.
Allrounder Matt Combe remains the backbone of the Saints with bat and ball, his brother Justtin and perhaps fellow opener Mitch Martin the other keys with the bat at the top of the oder.
The Saints bowling unit appears relatively lean without the new-ball sting of Tony Caccaviello, although they have considerable variety at their disposal with Zac Hamerston, Clint King and Jon Carroll capable of extracting a wicket or three.
This game should be a ripper with both sides keen for success.
But the good games are far from limited to the finalists with Blackheath-dimboola and Laharum also headed for an intriguing clash at Dimboola.
Laharum was flying in the second half of the season before running into Morgan last game, while Blackheath-dimboola broke through for a hardearned win against the Saints.
The Bulls had Elliot Braithwaite, who top-scored last game with 46, Harry Young, 36, Luke Werner, 32, Tim Mcgough, 28, Darren Jones, 27, and Lachie Watts, 25, enjoying the runs against the Saints. But they will have to back up strongly against a visiting side boasting the power of Peucker, form of Mibus and Daniel Griffiths, and others such as Josh Mahoney, Mal Adams and Brad Brotherton.
Damien Bunworth might be the key for the visitors if he’s fit to play.
CHIEF DESTROYER: Rupanyup-minyip bowler Ryan Metelmann was a key player in his side’s convincing win over Laharum finishing with figures of 4-51. This week: Two-day round, Jung Tigers v Horsham Saints at Horsham City Oval, Blackheath-dimboola v Laharum...