WITH play clear to continue following the end of another lockdown, the Sale-Maffra Cricket Association will play the first of three rescheduled rounds on Saturday.
The next two rounds were to be played at the beginning of the season, but were washed-out, while matches to be played last weekend will be played on March 6 because of the five-day lockdown.
Just as was written seven days ago, six of the eight first grade teams remain in the hunt for finals places.
The top three sides - Collegians, Sale and Maffra - are level on points, two wins ahead of Bundalaguah and Boisdale-Briagolong, who are in fifth and six places respectively.
While all four matches will have a bearing on the top four, two matches stand out.
THE winner of the match between top side Collegians and third-placed Maffra will put themselves in a good position to claim a home semi-final.
The Eagles have lost their past two matches, but will have fond memories of their home game against College.
The visitors scored 6-193, with Daniel Bedggood dominating the chase, scoring 107 from 65 as Maffra won with five wickets a ball short of six overs in hand.
Collegians has began 2021 by winning three of its four matches, with the loss a narrow one to Bundalaguah, but will have a testing run towards the finals with matches against finals aspirants Stratford and Boisdale-Briagolong to come.
BOISDALE-BRIAGOLONG will host Bundalaguah, with the loser to find it a little harder to make the finals.
The pressure will be on the Saints, who have the most difficult end to the season, with matches against Maffra and Collegians to follow Saturday's contest.
After a vital victory over Stratford, the Saints did was expected of them, defeating the bottom two sides, Longford and Rosedale-Kilmany, and will be keen to reverse their loss to the Bulls in round eight.
A loss to Stratford a fortnight ago ended Bundalaguah's unbeaten 2021, with a score of 203 proving too match to chase down.
STRATFORD can maintain its six-point buffer in fourth place with victory over Longford at Stephenson Park.
Solid wins over RK and Bundalaguah has given the Redbacks' season some momentum.
The Lizards put in strong performance against Collegians, and will need something similar if they're to earn their first win of the season and upset the Redbacks' bid for a finals spot. The Lizards did score 194 in reply the Stratford's 7-235 in round eight.
VICTORY over RK at home will boost Sale's hopes for a home semi-final ahead of challenging matches against Bundalaguah and Stratford.
The Swans will be looking to improve with the bat following recent performance. However, they were able to defence 116 in their previous match against Maffra.
The Warriors weren't too far off recording their second win of the season last time out, with Boisdale-Briagolong needing 39 overs to win with just two wickets in hand.
When they met at Rosedale, the Swans chased down the Warriors' 7-120 for the loss of three wickets.