CGCA’s fight before Christmas

With one round remaining before the Christmas break the teams of the Central Gippsland Cricket Association’s first grade competition have a final opportunity to shore up their positions.

Reigning premier Mirboo North sits almost 15 points clear at the top of the table and with the bye this round will enjoy an early break knowing its king of the hill status is practically unassailable.

All three matches this round mark the first time these opponents have gone head-to-head this season, with the previous encounters scheduled for round three’s washout.

Jeeralang Boolarra has roared into contention after back-to-back outright wins against Moe and Yallourn North but this week faces stiffer competition when it takes on Morwell.

Panthers captain Stanley Urbanic Junior has been in ominous form since making the switch to red ball cricket a fortnight ago, making 57 not out and returning match bowling figures of 8/33 against Moe.

He backed that up against Yallourn North during last weekend’s two-dayer, posting 45 and taking six wickets for the match.

Urbanic has had good support from new ball partner Matt McGrath who has taken 12 wickets in the past two rounds, including two five-wicket hauls.

But the Tigers go into the match fresh after missing last round and on a high after becoming the first team to defeat Mirboo North in their previous outing.

With talent like Rory Hare, Robert Webber and Brendan Brincat, the number four team is strong in all departments and will see the match as a chance to lift its ladder position ahead of the break.

Yallourn North v Trafalgar

SATURDAY’S match-up between Yallourn North and Trafalgar features a battle between two teams which have undergone significant changes this season.

While both teams feature vastly different line-ups from last season their fortunes could not be more different.

The Ships have handled the change well and, with a team containing a mixture of youth and older heads, beat Moe and upset Morwell.

Even when it has lost it has remained competitive.

In contrast, the young Bombers are yet to win a game this season and have lost their previous two matches outright.

Competitive performances in the field have been a bright spot for Yallourn North, but aside from a few individual efforts the side has struggled to challenge the opposition bowlers.

While Trafalgar go into the match as strong favourites, Yallourn North will be desperate for a win in 2016.

To do that the Bombers will have to get through a top order which was firing on all cylinders against Moe last week.

Latrobe v Moe

LATROBE will be keen to use this round’s match against Moe to sail into the break on a high after last weekend’s heavy loss to Mirboo North.

The Sharks’ dangerous bowling attack was not able to contain the reigning premier, who posted a whopping 313 before skittling Latrobe for 95.

They will expect a return to winning ways against the Lions, who defeated Trafalgar in a good contest last weekend after losing outright to Jeeralang Boolarra the previous round.

The Sharks’ attack boasts leading wicket taker Chris Johnson (23 wickets) and number five Tyron Gamage (17 scalps).

While they can be expected to get the job done against Moe they will need to get through the road block of Andrew Philip.

The Moe captain returned to the top of the league run scorers’ list on Sunday after posting his third unbeaten century of the season.

If Philip goes cheaply Latrobe should be able to grab the match by the throat.

The Sharks are favourites but the potential exists for an upset if the Lions play their best cricket.