Pressure builds on Cats

Manifold Heights Cricket Club will play Irrewarra in this weekend's semi final.

LOCAL CRICKET Jim Timberlake

Geelong Cricket Club currently sits in ninth place on the Victorian Premier Cricket ladder, and with three games remaining, cannot afford to put a foot wrong.

That starts this weekend with a two-day game to be played on Saturday and Sunday against St Kilda, who are seventh on the ladder, making this game crucial for both sides.

The Cats have struggled to find consistency as a team all season, but despite this, there has been a huge number of individual highlights.

Tom Jackson and Josh Larkin have both scored centuries, while Eamonn Vines, Hayden Butterworth and Mitch Reid have all scored plenty of half centuries.

While with the ball, Dom McGlinchey, Butterworth and Brody Couch have all taken big bags of wickets at various times.

So the talent is there, the team just needs to find a way to all be in peak form at the same time. That challenge has to start this game, because if it doesn’t, finals will be almost out of reach.

The Geelong Cricket Association also has three rounds of two-day games remaining before their finals kick off, and in division one, the top four have managed to keep fifth placed Grovedale at bay in recent weeks, but that could all change this round, because third placed East Belmont host fourth placed South Barwon in a huge clash.

Last week’s round was washed out on day two, which probably hurt East Belmont, as they had posted a very healthy 308 against Newtown & Chilwell and looked likely to take the points.

For South Barwon though, the rain came at just the right time, as they were facing the daunting task of chasing down Grovedale’s 301. Play did get underway at Reynolds Reserve, with the Swans quickly reduced to 3/18 before the persistent rain proved to be too much and a draw was declared.

In their clash earlier this season, East Belmont took the points relatively comfortably, but that will mean nothing now, as both teams’ form has fluctuated wildly since then.

East Belmont probably deserve to start narrow favourites, purely on their record over recent seasons in big games, but this game could go either way.

Selections: LARA v Bell Post Hill, Leopold v NORTH GEELONG, St Josephs v NEWTOWN & CHILWELL, EAST BELMONT v South Barwon, GROVEDALE v Murgheboluc.

In division two, despite last weeks rain, amazingly a result was achieved in three of the four games.

Highton snuck over the line against St Peters, Marshall took the points over Manifold Heights, while Geelong City secured the win on day one of their clash with Torquay.

That left ladder leader Bell Park to draw their game with Modewarre. That was a result that shouldn’t hurt Bell Park too much, as they are well out in front. But it did help Modewarre stay in touch with the top four, as they would have struggled to chase down the Dragons’ 299.

All of that means that when St Peters host Modewarre this round, it could be considered an elimination final, as the loser will find it really hard to play finals, while for the winner, their premiership hopes will remain alive for now.

Both sides have been in pretty good form, so this game will be a fantastic contest, which will go down to the wire.

Selections: ST PETERS v Modewarre, MARSHALL v Torquay, GEELONG CITY v Manifold Heights, BELL PARK v Highton

Meanwhile, in division three, St Albans Breakwater got a lucky break, being the only side to secure victory last round, giving them a nice nine point buffer over the chasing pack.

With still so many sides in contention for a finals berth, this might finally be the round that starts to see some sides drop off, as there is multiple critical games scheduled.

Selections: ALEXANDER THOMSON v St Albans Breakwater, LETHBRIDGE v Corio, Waurn Ponds Deakin v BANNOCKBURN, Thomson v GEELONG WEST, Guild Saints v NEWCOMB & DISTRICT.

And in the womens divisions, it is semi finals time.

In the North division, Irrewarra finished on top of the ladder, which means they will play Manifold Heights for a spot in the grand final. While in the South division, Ocean Grove will play St Josephs.

This has been a fantastic inaugural season fro the women, and it looks like being a huge finale.

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