MOUNT CLEAR captain-coach Nathan Yates says finishing the season undefeated was a good achievement.
But now “it’s time for the real stuff”.
The Mounties have a looming semi-final against Napoleons-Sebastopol – a team that has finished runner-up in the past three Ballarat Cricket Association club firsts title match.
There was a slim chance Naps-Sebas could have been thrown out of the finals race in the final round.
Reigning premier Wendouree quickly stamped out that challenge from North Ballarat early on day two. The Roosters needed an outright win and fell seven runs short of first innings points.
Naps, like it has all season, managed to hang on to a top-four spot that it sealed in a comfortable 50-run win against East Ballarat.
Now Naps-Sebas has the mammoth challenge to make a fourth-straight final by clearing versatile competition benchmark Mount Clear.
While his team may enter finals undefeated, Yates says it is now a whole other ball game.
“Semi-finals are probably the most important game of the year. We just hope we have a win against Naps,” Yates said.
“We’re looking forward to playing Naps.
“We beat them earlier in the year (by 120 runs) but their team has changed a bit since then and ours has too.”
The Mounties fine-tuned preparations against Darley on the Lions’ turf in the final round.
They bat deep into the order on day one, then on Saturday used a chance to put overs into younger or less-used bowlers for a comfortable 141-run win.
Brown Hill made a similar move against Coronet City, easing the load on headline pacemen Shane Harwood and Matt McMahon this week.
The Bull are preparing for their first semi-final in four years and hope to reach their first final since six years ago when they lost to Wendouree in the first of the Red Caps’ five-flag stretch.
Bulls captain Jason Knowles said it felt good to be back preparing for finals action.
It will be a tough ask for Wendouree, vying for its sixth-straight flag, with batting under the spotlight after a lacklustre outing against North Ballarat.
The Red Caps hope to regain decorated quick Eamon Johnson in what is shaping up as a bowling showdown with the Bulls.