Geelong Cricket Club batsmen enjoyed a perfect lead into the finals last Saturday during a dominant display with the willow against Frankston Penninsula.
Winning the toss and batting, skipper Eamonn Vines (99) returned to the top of the order and spent over four and half hours at the crease before falling agonisingly short of what would have been a well-deserved century.
Tim Ludeman (96) also tuned up with a valuable knock, while all of the other batsmen got some good practice in as the side posted 8/327 declared.
This Saturday the bowlers have their turn to iron out any bugs before the Cats head into the following weekend’s first final, hopefully with a solid win and a good dose of confidence under their belts.
In Geelong Cricket Association, the division one season is set for an almighty climax in the last home and away round with six sides that can still squeeze into the top four.
Newtwon & Chilwell returned to form at just the right time, with a hard fought win against Leopold last week, chasing down 252 for victory.
The win moved the side move into the four on 42 points and now means Newtown & Chilwell has its destiny in its own hands because it can’t be displaced after any victory against South Barwon.
Grovedale is also on 42 points following a very solid win against second placed St Josephs.
The Tigers play Bell Post Hill at Myers Reserve, knowing a win will see them play finals yet again.
The only other side that can sneak in is Lara, which plays St Josephs at the College Oval. The Cats boast some genuine match winners, particularly Huighes brothers Danny and Andy, while Daniel Wiegl looks like he’s ready to play one of his signature big knocks.
This round will be intriguing with so much to play for, meaning some amazing cricket will no doubt be on show.
Selections: EAST BELMONT v North Geelong, Bell Post Hill v GROVEDALE, St Josephs v LARA, South Barwon v NEWTOWN & CHILWELL, Leopold v GEELONG CITY.
In division two, anything is possible, with five teams still in the mix for the top four.
However, Torquay’s points saga still looms large, so nobody knows how likely they are to even play finals, apart from top placed Murgheboluc.
In terms of the basic facts, though, Highton simply must beat Murgheboluc to be a chance to play finals.
Marshall also has it all to play for with a winnable but dangerous game St Peters at home.
Bell Park plays Thomson in a game the Dragons would be expected to win. However, their form has been patchy and, with Thomson desperately needing the club championship points, this could be the upset that turns the season on its head.
Finally, Torquay will play Manifold Heights in an epic mismatch. The Tigers may well be eyeing off outright points to help boost their chances of retaining their spot in the top four if they lose premiership points for possible points cap breaches, as some have predicted.
No doubt all teams will be keeping an eye on scores from other grounds while trying to stay focused on their own affairs.
Selections: MARSHALL v St Peters, Highton v MURGHEBOLUC, Bell Park v THOMSON, TORQUAY v Manifold Heights.
And in division three, fourth placed Bannockburn has amazingly left the door slightly ajar for Geelong West to sneak back into the finals after two unexpected losses in a row.
The Tigers lost to St Albans Breakwater last game, which admittedly was always going to be a tough game. However, their outright loss to Waurn Ponds-Deakin the previous round has left them slightly vulnerable to an ambush of epic proportions.
Geelong West will play Newcomb & District knowing that a huge win might let it sneak into the finals.
Bannockburn has the relative luxury of playing Corio, which has seen struggling of late. But with this season playing out the way it is, expect the unexpected.
Selections: ST ALBANS BREAKWATER v Teesdale, GEELONG WEST v Newcomb & District, ALEXANDER THOMSON v Guild Saints, Waurn Ponds Deakin v MODEWARRE, Corio v BANNOCKBURN.