The hard hitting at the top of the order from Chris Neal could set up an important victory for Sawtell.
The hard hitting at the top of the order from Chris Neal could set up an important victory for Sawtell. LEIGH JENSEN

Close at the top

THE race for the minor premiership and all-important hosting rights for the major semi-final is on in earnest with only one day of the cricket season remaining before the finals start.

Reigning premier Park Beach Bowling Club (PBBC) Colts currently sits on top of the table but only by the barest of margins ahead of Coffs Tigers and Sawtell.

The side that does finish the season on top of the table may just come from this afternoon’s big clash at Richardson Park between Sawtell and PBBC Colts.

Sawtell captain Ben Andrews welcomes the fact that the finals have come to Coffs Harbour cricket a week early.

“We’re keen for a big one,” Andrews said.

“Obviously if we win we come first or second so that is our priority.

“If we finish first we get to choose which ground we get to play our finals at but even if we finish second it’s still important because that way at least we get a second crack if one of the games gets called off due to bad weather.”

The last time these two were drawn to meet, the weather intervened but Andrews isn’t too perturbed that his team hasn’t had a close up look at the opposition before today.

“You know who they’ve got and what they do,” he said.

“Most clubs have had the same players for about five years now so it’s not really an issue.”

Andrews did admit though that the Colts is a team that he and his teammates have plenty of respect for.

“They (Colts) have got a few good players who can bowl all day and even score a 100 at times,” the quick bowler said.

“There’s guys like Daryl (Parmenter) and ‘Fracca’ (Matt Francis) who can do the job for Colts.”

Then again, the opposition has rarely been a concern for Sawtell over the years. The club won five premierships in a row playing its own brand of cricket and betting that it is good enough to beat anyone.

“We’ve always had a pretty good team, always been able to bat down to about number 10 and there’s three or four blokes, a couple of quicks and a couple of mediums, who can put it on the spot most of the time when we’re bowling,” the Sawtell captain explained.

“Everyone knows what we do and if you’re good enough to hit it then you’re good enough.”

Despite sitting in equal first position Coffs Tigers have managed to again fly under the radar due to the big match this weekend between the other two contenders.

For the Tigers to win the minor premiership this round, it needs to defeat fierce rival Diggers Ex-Services at Fitzroy Oval as well as hope for a Sawtell win.

On paper the first part of the equation should be simple enough given the recent displays from Diggers Ex-Services including a last-start outright defeat.

That result plus last Saturday’s rain has made it impossible for Diggers to reach the upcoming finals.

Despite the situation, captain Stephen Meakins won’t be letting his side go down without a fight and he says the team will be chasing victory this afternoon no matter what.

“If you have an opportunity you have to go for it and that’s exactly what we will be doing,” Meakins said.

“If we do win it will mean that the Tigers can’t finish on top of the table and that will be an added little bonus.”

Last week’s cancellation means that Dorrigo can not move up or down from fourth position.

The in-form unit from the plateau should be very confident that it will overcome Bellingen at Rowe Oval and ensure that it will be ready for the knockout semi-final being played next week.

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