Veteran paceman Jason Crosbie says North Ballarat is in a good state of mind going into a Ballarat Cricket Association firsts semi-final against minor premier Mt Clear at the Eastern Oval on Saturday and Sunday.
He has no doubt the Roosters are much better placed mentally than they were a year ago when they ended a finals drought.
"We had little or no finals experience. We were uptight.
"We're much relaxed for that experience and much more settled as a team."
Crosbie said knowing a finals berth was locked in before the last home and away round had been a contributing factor to this in the build-up.
He said players had had time to take in the challenge of finals.
Crosbie said there was also the added incentive of producing a performance worthy of a final after the embarrassing nature in which North Ballarat lost to eventual premier Golden Point in last season's semi-finals.
The Roosters managed only 125 in reply to 6-302.
North Ballarat is not going to get it any easier though against Mt Clear - something Crosbie knows full well.
"They're the premiership favourite and deserve to be."
If the Roosters are to get the better of a powerful Mounties line-up boasting Nathan Yates, Darcy Thomson, Matt Ward, Darren Fletcher, Curt Townrow, Jarrod Burns, Les Sandwith and Ash George - all match-winners on their day - the performances of
captain Leigh Lorenzen and Ash McCafferty are going to be pivotal.
Lorenzen has averaged 50 at the top of the order and McCafferty has claimed 35 wickets.
Crosbie said Lorenzen had had a calming effect on the top and middle order, having more often than not provided solid starts. "He knows what he has to do."
Crosbie said there was no doubt that the express pace of McCafferty was North Ballarat's biggest weapon with the ball, with the ability to trouble the batting depth of Mt Clear.
He also praised the contribution of Welsh import Connor Miles, saying the off-spinner had been a great asset for the club and should not be underestimated.
Crosbie said Mounties were the benchmark, and to be the best you had to beat the best.
Mt Clear (1st): 1 outright win, 11 1st innings, 3 losses
North Ballarat (4th): 1 outright win, 8 1st innings wins, 6 losses
R6: Mt Clear 7-187 d North Ballarat 96
R9: Mt Clear 176 d North Ballarat 161 and 1-36
EAST BALLARAT V GOLDEN POINT
There is an air of confidence in each camp as East Ballarat and Golden Point prepare to face each other in a BCA firsts semi-final at Alfredton on Saturday and Sunday.
Captains Josh Brown (East) and Josh White (Point) have every right to be.
The Hawks have answered almost ever challenge to end a long absence from finals, while Golden Point knows what it takes to produce the goods when needed as two premiership in three seasons demonstrates.
Brown said having several players capable of big scores and Ollie Hayes (32 wickets) always dangerous with the ball provided a sound foundation.
He said while Point batted deep, East was confident about chasing down targets.
East Ballarat (2nd): 2 outright wins, 9 1st innings wins, 4 losses
Golden Point: (3rd): 11 1st innings wins, 4 losses
R1: East Ballarat 9-291 d Golden Point 5-290
R14: Golden Point 8-301 d East Ballarat 248