Stratford in good shape for semi-final

FINISHING the home-and-away season on top of the table, Stratford will enter its Sale-Maffra cricket semi-final against Maffra in good shape following a testing match against Boisdale-Briagolong.

The Redbacks were tested against the second-placed Saints, who will be hoping to earn another chance against the ladder leader during their semi-final with Rosedale-Kilmany.

After posting 207, the Stratford attack stood up under pressure, with Simon Williams and Jack Tatterson stepping up to take the final wickets to deliver a confidence boosting victory ahead of the finals.

Williams and Tatterson took nine wickets between them last week, spinner Jack Rietschel will look to rediscover his early season form while Luke Maguire will also look to get in the action this week.

Ben Shepperson and Tatterson contributed most of the runs two weeks ago, and will look for more support against a good Maffra attack this weekend.

The Redbacks can expect another test from the Eagles, who played themselves into form against Sale City to advance to the finals.

Reaching 6-303 from 73 overs against the Lizards, the Eagles’ bats enter the finals in good form, especially Jon Cheer, whose rich vein of form continued with a century.

Following a disappointing outing against Boisdale-Briagolong, the Eagles’ attack responded last week, taking 16 Sale City wickets.

Andrew Higgins and Josh Rurawhe inflicted most of the first innings damage, while Cheer rounded out a good match with all six second innings Lizard wickets.

Both teams have split their encounters this season, with the home side winning on both occasions.

Home ground advantage could be enough for the Redbacks to pinch it, but don’t discount Maffra, who also boasts some quality players.

RK in form 

ROSEDALE-Kilman y will travel to take on Boisdale-Briagolong in winning form, stitching up a finals berth with victory over reigning premier Bundalaguah.

Finishing fifth for the past two seasons, the Warriors entered the season hungry to play finals cricket and have achieved their aim.

Requiring victory over Bundalaguah in what was effectively an elimination final, the Warriors delivered and will no doubt have done a favour to the other top four sides in the competition in removing the big threat of the premier.

Warriors captain Brad Scott showed his class in the win, top-scoring in the first innings and taking nine wickets for the match, but will look for more support from his teammates with both bat and ball.

Jack Holt and John Brough have been excellent additions to the Warriors’ attack and can’t be underestimated, while several batsmen will enter the contest knowing they can perform better that they have in recent weeks.

The Saints will also enter the contest full of confidence, pushing ladder leader Stratford last week, and will relish the chance to earn another opportunity against the Redbacks. Semi-finalists last season, a grand final berth is the next step.

The addition of Daniel Cameron has certainly helped the Saints’ cause, and he will be looking for more runs in the big occasion of finals cricket, while youngsters Tom Langshaw, Louis Howard and Simon Jago have taken their opportunities and stood up in first grade cricket.

The two sides have shared the honours this season, with the home side victorious on each occasion.

SMCA semi-finals:

Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and 16:

Firsts, 12.45pm: Stratford v Maffra at Stratford Recreation Reserve, Boisdale-Briagolong v Rosedale-Kilmany at Briagolong Recreation Reserve.

Seconds, 1pm: Sale v Maffra at Sale Oval, Heyfield v Boisdale-Briagolong at Gordon Street Recreation Reserve.

Thirds, 1pm: Bundalaguah v Sale at Bundalaguah astro, Collegians v Stradbroke at College astro.

Fourths, 1pm (Saturday): Collegians v Bundalaguah at Stead Street, Maffra v Stradbroke at Cameron Sporting Complex.