Looking for a challenger

HOW do you stop Sawtell from winning their fifth consecutive cricket title?

As the second half of the cricket season gets underway this afternoon, that will be the question on the lips of the five opposing captains in the lead up to the semi-finals.

A year ago it was thought that the loss of Todd Gill would help bring undone the stranglehold that Sawtell enjoys on the competition but that thinking didn't come to fruition.

This year it was the absence of Ben Davis and Kel McMillan that would finally see an end to Sawtell's period of dominance.

A look at the ladder shows that this predicted downturn in form isn't happening either as the reigning premiers are still on top of the table and to make matters worse for the opposition, Gill has returned to town and is piling up the runs.

In his two knocks so far this summer, Gill is averaging a Bradman-like 98.50 and this afternoon he and his team-mates face the bottom-placed Coffs Hotel Tigers - a team that Gill has an extraordinary recent record against.

The strongest challenger this summer looks to be coming from the mountains with Dorrigo currently a clear second.

The hot and cold Diggers Ex-Services travel to Dorrigo this afternoon hoping that the New Year will bring a kick start to their season.

Coffs Colts and Northern Districts are currently locked in a battle for fourth spot and the result of their clash over the next two Saturdays at Woolgoolga's High Street ground could decide which of them makes the semi-finals in March.

• THE 2009 Bradman Cup will bring together the best Under 16 cricketers throughout Country NSW, and Coffs Harbour and Sawtell have the hosting rights for the competition which starts on Monday.

Twelve months ago constant rain saw the competition rescheduled and Coffs Harbour missed out on seeing some of the emerging talent in the State.

Come Monday, teams from the local North Coast zone, Western, Central North, Central Coast, Newcastle, Riverina, Southern and Illawarra will battle it out to wrest the title from last year's overall winner Central Coast.

Matches will commence each day at 10.00am and will be played in a 50-over-a-side format at the Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park and also at Richardson Park.

The two leading teams will contest the final to be played at the BCU International Stadium on Thursday.

Diggers Ex-Services…14
Coffs Colts…14
Northern Districts…13
Coffs Hotel Tigers…9

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