BOTH Sale-Maffra cricket semi-finals will be played in Sale this weekend.
Minor premier Collegians will host Maffra at the College Oval, while across town at Sale Oval, Sale will take on Longford.
While Collegians and Maffra have won premierships this decade (most recently in 2017 and 2012 respectively), the combatants in the other semi-final have had to wait longer for first grade success. Sale last won a grand final in 1991, while it’s been 40 years since Longford claimed the top prize.
Making their first finals appearance since 2001, the Lizards missed the chance to secure a home semi-final, losing their past two matches to slip to third place on the ladder.
Chasing Collegians’ 9-226 last weekend, the Lizards collapsed to 6-7, and had no chance of coming back from there, eventually bowled out for 56.
Longford, which only has one win against this season’s finalists, will need to quickly turn its form around this weekend against Sale.
The Swans enter the finals on the back to three consecutive victories to finish the home-and-away season in second place on the ladder.
In the final round, the Swans overcame Stratford to secure its place in the top four. Five wickets from Ben Howes and four from Ben Jones saw Sale win by 17 runs.
Jones has taken 25 wickets this season, the same amount as captain Steve Parry, who has returned home to England to prepare for the County season with Lancashire.
Sale won both matches against Longford this season.
In the two-day game in round five at Stephenson Park, the Lizards were bowled out for just 113 before Sale declared on 9-192. The Lizards made 8-193 in their second innings, with Connor Hughes scoring 93.
Sale won the one-day game in round 10 at home by 95 runs.
COLLEGIANS enters the finals as premiership favourite, but Maffra will be keen to cause an upset.
The met in the penultimate round of the season, with College too strong at home.
The Eagles were bowled out for 101, with 61 coming from association leading run-scorer Daniel Bedggood. Matt Foster and Jack Tatterson scored half-centuries as Collegians scored 9-240.
Lee Hopkins scored 96 in the second innings to help Maffra avoid outright defeat.
Collegians also won the one-day contest early in the season.
Everything went right for the Eagles in the final round to make the semi-finals. They narrowly defeated Bundalaguah and benefitted from losses for Stratford and Rosedale-Kilmany to move from seventh place to fourth.
The Eagles will be looking to take that momentum into the finals, but will come against a formidable Collegians line-up, which out-classed Longford last round.
Stuart Anderson is averaging 57.89 with the bat, while Tatterson has taken 30 wickets this season and Mark Nicholls 22.
First grade, Saturday and Sunday, noon:
Collegians v Maffra at College Oval, Sale.
Sale v Longford at Sale.
Second grade, Saturday and Sunday, 12.30pm:
Collegians v Heyfield at Gordon Street Recreation Reserve, Heyfield.
Maffra v Bundalaguah at Cameron Sporting Complex main oval, Maffra.
Third grade, Saturday, noon:
Bundalaguah v Boisdale-Briagolong at Col Wrigglesworth Oval, Bundalaguah.
Sale v Stradbroke at Nambrok Recreation Reserve.
Fourth grade, Saturday, noon:
Heyfield v Collegians at College Astro.
Wurruk v Maffra at Cameron Sports Complex, Campbell St oval, Maffra.
Fifth grade, Saturday, noon:
Rosedale-Kilmany v Stratford at Bundalaguah astro.
Sale v Heyfield at Stead Street Reserve, Sale.
Junior grand finals:
Under 16s, Monday, 9am:
Collegians v Bundalaguah at College Oval, Sale.
Under 14s, Monday, 9am:
Stratford v Maffra Red at Cameron Sporting Complex main oval, Maffra.