There is no doubting North Ballarat’s finals aspirations are in its own hands.
North currently sits in sixth position on the Ballarat Cricket Association first grade ladder, but is only percentage outside the four.
North Ballarat plays four teams above it on the ladder in the final five rounds, along with Ballarat-Redan, which showed it is a threat by defeating former top four team Buninyong in the final round before the break.
Skipper Leigh Lorenzen sees the tough draw as a positive.
Given his side finds itself outside the top four, as first grade matches resume on Saturday, it will relish the opportunities to take down higher ranked opponents in order to work its way into a finals position, beginning with Golden Point this weekend.
“The second half of the year we’re playing finals contenders, if we want to play finals we’re going to have to beat them,” Lorenzen said.
“We’re only percentage out of the top four, so if we manage to get a few early wins, it will hold us in good stead.
“To be sitting equal fourth (is pretty good), especially with the cricket that we’ve played, we’ve been pretty inconsistent the first half of the year, there’s a hell of a lot to improve on.”
North Ballarat will be without number three batsman Matthew Zakynthinos for the one-day clash, but it will regain the services of Mitch Nicholson, who took five wickets against Mt Clear last time he played.
BUNINYONG and Darley will face-off in a telling match.
The Bunnies fell out of the four entering Christmas but are one of four teams with five wins from fourth to seventh. The Lions are a game back, but victory here would bring them right back into the mix.
Buninyong captain Liam Brady said it was a big game for his group. He said it was key to keep wickets in hand with the bat and strike early with the ball, but finding that consistency across the day is something Buninyong continues to work towards.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Brady said.
“It’s so even...we’ve just got to try and continue to win.
“It’s just important that we do the basics right. Whether we bat or bowl first, get off to a really good start.
“I think we’ve shown our best cricket can stack-up against the better sides in the competition...(but) we’ve obviously been a little bit inconsistent.
“Just improving in patches within the game.
“It’s important to be consistent over the course of the day, rather than being really good for 60 overs then lapsing. If we can get a more consistent effort...that will hold us in good stead, because we’ve got some match-winners in the team, there’s no doubt about that.”
WENDOUREE will host Ballarat-Redan as it looks to keep its spot in the top four.
Two Swords, while sitting ninth, have won two of their last three matches and pose a danger. But these are the types of matches that finals contenders must lock-in.
BROWN Hill will be desperate to resume its season on a winning note, but it will begin with a tough ask against top side East Ballarat.
The Bulls have just one win since round four and have slipped to seventh on the ladder. They will be hoping for a return to the winner’s list to stay in the finals conversation.
NAPOLEONS-SEBASTOPOL will face a huge challenge against second-placed Mt Clear on Saturday.
Naps-Sebas sits at the bottom of the ladder without a victory so far this season while the Mounties went to the break on a high after defeating ladder leader East Ballarat.
Meanwhile, there will be a minute’s silence at the start of each game while players and umpires will wear black armbands following the passing of Ballarat Cricket Legend Allan Spratling.
Spratling invested more than 50 years into the BCA and Mt Clear Cricket Club.