Focus turns to finals

WITH Stratford’s appeal out of the way, the focus in Sale-Maffra cricket turns to this weekend’s semi-finals.

Coming off five successive wins, Rosedale-Kilmany will host Sale, while the biggest beneficiaries of the decision to strip Stratford of its points, Bundalaguah and Boisdale-Briagolong, will meet at Bundalaguah.

Defeated by Stratford in round two, the Bulls gained points following the Stratford ruling, moving them to the top of the table.

With teams defeated by Stratford receiving the maximum points awarded that respective round, the Saints received outright points, moving them into the top four.

Season 2014-15 could be end of a premiership drought for one of three clubs.

Of the four semi-finalists, only Bundalaguah has tasted premiership success over the past 24 years.

Sale has not won the first grade title since 1991, Rosedale-Kilmany hasn’t won since the last of its third successive premierships in 1987, while Boisdale-Briagolong has never won a first grade title.

ROSEDALE-Kilmany enters the finals in the best form, winning its past five matches. The Warriors’ last defeat came in December, which came against Sale.

Solid performances helped the Warriors get to the top of the table, only for Bundalaguah to claim the minor premiership following Stratford withdrawing its appeal.

Warriors captain Brad Scott was the leading run scorer during the home-and-away season, scoring 791 runs at an average of just under 88. Scott has scored three half-centuries from his past four innings.

Another run scorer of note has been Rohan Diamond. Jack Robinson has been Rosedale-Kilmany’s leading wicket taker, claiming 24.

Having won four successive games, Sale’s run to the finals hit a hurdle last round, bowled out for just 50 by Bundalaguah. An improved showing in the second innings would have restored some confidence.

Ian Wrigglesworth has again led Sale with the bat and will be a key wicket this weekend, while Ben Howes and Jack Dyer, with 20 wickets each this season, will be important with the ball.

Sale won both its matches against Rosedale-Kilmany this season.

HAVING survived a tight contest against Maffra, Boisdale-Briagolong will need to lift against Bundalaguah.

The Saints just managed to gain first innings on the first day of the last round.

They were only seven runs off claiming outright points, but only had two wickets in hand at the end of the match.

The Saints should have some confidence from that match. Their attack has been led this season by captain Dylan Bolton and James Gaul, who have taken 50 wickets between them.

Mick Roberts has been Boisdale-Briagolong’s leading batsman, scoring 471 runs.

Minor premier Bundalaguah enters the finals having won six of its past seven matches. The Bulls win over Sale last round ensured them a home semi-final.

The Bulls haven’t relied on one batsman to perform this season, with Nathan Massey (544 runs), Ben Saxon (513) and captain Mat Dowsett (470) making contributions.

Import Karl High has claimed 26 wickets this season and has had support from the likes of Adam Cairns, who’s taken 21.

Bundalaguah has won both meetings with Boisdale-Briagolong.

THE second grade semi-finals promise to be tight affairs.

Only 12 points separated minor premier Wurruk and fourth-placed Collegians on the ladder. They will clash this weekend at Wurruk.

Collegians only made the finals ahead of Stratford by less than 0.02 of a point.

Heyfield will host Bundalaguah, with only two points separating them after the home-and-away season.

In the thirds, defending premier Bundalaguah will meet Collegians in a rematch of last year’s grand final.

Bundalaguah finished on top of the table by 18 points, with four separating the second and fourth-placed sides.

Sale City will host Sale in the other semi-final.

In the fourths on Saturday, minor premier Maffra will host Bundalaguah, and Collegians will be at home against Boisdale-Briagolong.

Saturday and Sunday

Firsts, 12.45pm: Bundalaguah v Boisdale-Briagolong at Col Wrigglesworth Oval; Rosedale-Kilmany v Sale at Rosedale Recreation Reserve.

Seconds, 1pm: Wurruk v Collegians at Wurruk Cricket Ground; Heyfield v Bundalaguah at Gordon Street Recreation Reserve.

Thirds, 1pm: Bundalaguah v Collegians at Bundalaguah astro; Sale City v Sale at Stephenson Park.

Fourths, 1pm (Saturday): Maffra v Bundalaguah at Cameron Sporting Complex (Campbell St); Collegians v Boisdale-Briagolong at College astro.