By john hehir
Moe will be hoping to progress to its seventh consecutive TRUenergy Yallourn Cup final, but will have to be on top of its game against Morwell in the semi-final this weekend.
The Lions have won the past six grand finals and eight out of the past 11.
In last week’s rain affected round, Moe was in a strong position against the Tigers.
After relying heavily on Rob Phoenix, Paul Cake and Andrew Philip, several Moe bats found their form as they rattled up 283 on a lush outfield.
Morwell’s bowling attack held no fears for the batsmen as Dale Walshe, Tom Long, Rob Phoenix, Paul Cake, Andrew Philip and Jayden Mathison got good starts.
The Tigers need all of their bowlers to find the target early or it will be a long day in the field with a minimum of 100 overs to be bowled.
Brendan Brincat has had a good year, but the majority of his wickets came from Yallourn North batsmen.
Mark Cukier has been consistent with bat and ball, but the experienced Eamon Fahy could be a wild card. Morwell has relied on Blake Mills, Craig Giddens and Cukier to get the runs, but to get past this formidable opponent, more players will need to put their hands up. Moe’s bowling attack has been good with Sam Price starting to get wickets.
Long, Chris Johnson, Phoenix and Matt Clarke all capable of being match winners.
Young Mathison is also causing a few problems for the batsmen. The only doubt is whether Matt Clarke has recovered from his hamstring problem. He may be rested for this match in the hope they make the big one.
Mirboo North v Latrobe
The other semi-final between Mirboo North and Latrobe at the Morwell Recreation Reserve should go down to the wire.
Last time they met the Tigers scored a good morale boosting win.
English import Richard Ford has been an asset as an opener with two centuries and several good scores.
Shane Peters, Bret Pedlow and Matt Snell have been in form as well. Joe O’Loughlin is expected to be recalled after playing second grade last round and scoring a confident 70. Mirboo North’s bowling attack is strong with James Grande and Liam Smit the likely new bowlers, and Dale Banks always gets his share of wickets.
A good start is need from Daniel Siddle and Justin Vajler, Ian Kennedy or Steve Freshwater and then Kaushik Aphale must make runs.
Anthony Bloomfield has been consistent, while Kris Wells is on the verge of a big score.
If Latrobe is to win this one, these two experienced campaigners need to fire. Against Trafalgar, Brendan Evans and Ash Halkett wrecked the Ships but could not make much headway against Newborough Bulldogs. The Sharks have Anthony Bloomfield, Kris Wells and Mark Lawrence to keep the Mirboo North bats in check.