Battling for survival

By Mitchell Dale

Throughout the 2004-2005 first grade cricket competition, Diggers-Ex Services have been a bit like the little fat kid in P.E. class who, no matter how hard he tried, couldn't quite keep up with everyone else.

From the end of round one until the end of round nine, Diggers were anchored to the bottom of the ladder.

But in the final round of the season, the little fat kid broke the shackles and burst away.

Diggers thumped last season's runners-up Park Beach Bowling Club Colts to not only climb off the bottom of the ladder, but win a semi-final place.

That one win could be the start of something big.

Diggers will go into tomorrow's minor semi-final against Bellingen as rank outsiders, especially considering Bellingen were only just pipped for second spot by Sawtell on quotient.

But try telling that to the Diggers boys.

"Morale is pretty good and the boys are all confident we can go at least one step further," Diggers skipper Steve Meakins said.

"We only have to win three games in a row to win the competition and we have been pretty competitive against all sides throughout the year."

Diggers and Bellingen can justifiably lay claim to possessing the two best bowling attacks in the competition, meaning runs will be at a premium tomorrow.

"Bowling is definitely our strength, no doubt about it," Meakins said.

"If we can score somewhere near 200, I will be pretty confident.

"But any score is defendable in finals when the pressure is on.

"You saw what a bit of pressure did to Colts last weekend (bowled out for 52 in reply to Diggers' 124)."

Bellingen skipper Chris Moran agreed 200 was the magical figure.

"I don't think a side has scored over 200 against us all year," Bellingen skipper Chris Moran said.

"(Diggers) have a good bowling attack, but we have a lot of batting depth.

"All we need is for a couple of blokes to fire and we will end up with a big score."

Bellingen beat Diggers in round two this season to end a long-running hoodoo and when the two sides met again in round seven, Diggers were 4-32 in reply to Bellingen's 110 before rain washed out the second day's play.

Both skippers felt they were in the box seat heading into day two of that match.

"I reckon we would have beaten Bellingen in the second round if it wasn't washed out," Meakins said.

Moran disagreed.

"We were on top when it was washed out," he said.

This season's first grade competition has been punctuated by sides running from hot to cold in successive weeks and Bellingen have been one of the worst offenders.

But Moran believes any consistency problems are a thing of the past.

"It's fair to say we have been very good and then very ordinary this season," Moran said.

"But in the last couple of games we have come good and started playing with consistency."

n Player profiles on Troy Herbert and Justin Gilbert plus rival skipper's analysis of the minor semi-final, page 28.

n Full preview of the major semi-final between Coffs Hotel Tigers and Sawtell in tomorrow's Coffs Coast Advocate.

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