Bitter cricket battle awaits Morwell rivals

Morwell will host Latrobe in Central Gippsland cricket’s only cross-town derby, and with just 0.17 points separating the two sides this promises to be among their most bitter battles.

Latrobe is fresh from a comprehensive win over flag favourites Mirboo North and hopeful of welcoming back Daniel Siddle from injury, as well as having Matt Brewer, Steven Freshwater and Anthony Bloomfield back in form.

Chris Johnson and Tyron Gamage are a formidable prospect for any batsman to face, while the swing of Jamie Brierley and seam of Brendan Evans ensure there will be no let-up.

Morwell is in high spirits too after a come-from-behind win over defending premiers Trafalgar.

With import Riyaz Pathan in form with bat and ball, the Tigers will be confident of taking the game into their own hands.

Rory Hare has been in good touch with the bat but has been covering for the reduced contributions of Brendan Brincat and Mark Cukier, both class bats who are just one good innings away from being back to their best.

Yallourn North v Moe

A humiliating loss last week will spur the Bombers on this weekend when they welcome Moe to the Yallourn North Turf.

Skipper Patrick Spiteri will have let his side know its capitulation was unacceptable and they must bounce back with a big win here to keep pace with Mirboo North at the top of the ladder.

The Bombers could have climbed into first place with a win but now face pressure from below with Trafalgar, Morwell and Latrobe all within three points.

In terms of performance, Callum Polo will be feeling the heat averaging just 9.2 in the crucial first-drop position, with just one score above eight.

Aidan Vesty started the season with a bang but has tapered off recently and will need to reignite his partnership with Josh Keyhoe that brought the Bombers success in the early rounds.

Jeremy Butler’s nine wicket performance last round was one of the only positives out of that game and Yallourn North need him firing on a traditionally batsman-friendly home pitch.

Moe comes back refreshed after two weeks off however have been dealt a major blow with star opening batsman Joel Mitchell on trial at VCA club Casey-South Melbourne, alongside CGCA oldboys Blake Mills and Mathew Hibbs.

Losing the competition’s second-highest runscorer will increase pressure on captain Andrew Philip as well as top-order bats Ayden Kelly, Sean Spiteri and Kayne O’Connell.

Mirboo North v Jeeralang-Boolarra

Mirboo North will be eager to bounce back after suffering a surprise upset last week against Latrobe.

Robert Phoenix bounded back into form with 73* and remains the key bat for the home side, while English import Adam Mates has been a picture of consistency and is yet to be dismissed for less than 20.

Jesse Giardina had a bad game but his record this season remains respectable, while Liam Smit, Connor Williams and Steve Rogers have been solid if unspectacular.

Question marks remain over the places of Justin Blair, Cameron Le Page and Jed Alexander, with all three constantly in and out of the side.

The Panthers will be on cloud nine after winning two games in a row but know a sobering task awaits them this week.

The bowling attack of Peter Gilpin, Stan Urbanic and brothers Dillon and Dermott Leys remains capable of challenging any batting lineup in the league, but there are still issues of quality and depth within the batting group.

Ben and Luke Heath cannot carry the team on their own and need more support from the likes of Craig Blackberry, Tim Laaks, Ben Duffy and Ossy Brennan.