TWO rounds remain in the Bendigo District Cricket Association home and away season and the race for the finals is down to three.
With Strathdale-Maristians and Bendigo United a lock to finish in the top two, it leaves Golden Square, Eaglehawk and Huntly-North Epsom fighting for two of the last three finals spots.
Square and Eaglehawk are both sitting in the top four at the moment, but after losses last weekend, the door has been left ajar for Huntly-North Epsom to take one of their positions.
Here’s how the run home for Square, the Hawks and the Power shapes up.
Who’d have though a couple of months ago after their flying start to the season that Square would be under pressure to hold onto their position in the top four?
Square burst out of the blocks winning their first four games, including an outright victory over Kangaroo Flat that had them sitting four points clear at the top of the ladder.
But a 3-5 record over their past eight games now has them just four points inside the top four.
They’ve been stiff, though, the past two games, losing to the undefeated Strathdale-Maristians by eight runs, and going down to Bendigo United on the last ball of the game, despite two gutsy fightbacks with both bat and ball.
Square’s next two games are against Sandhurst at home and Strathdale-Maristians at Bell Oval.They wouldn’t want it to get to a situation of needing to beat the Suns in the last round to qualify, which could happen if they don’t defeat Sandhurst first.
Certainly aren’t batting like a top-four team at the moment.
The Hawks sat second on the ladder after round nine, but since then have just three points to show for their past three games.
Last Saturday’s batting performance was a shocker when they were bundled out for 78 by Strathfieldsaye, which can’t have done the confidence of the side any good going into these last two games.
Like they have been for several seasons, the Hawks remain one of the great enigmas of the BDCA, with a frustratingly big gap between their best and worst cricket.
On last Saturday’s performance they don’t warrant a finals berth, yet I’m sure flag favourite Strathdale-Maristians would have some reservations about playing the Hawks in a semi-final after their earlier encounter this season when Eaglehawk had the champs on the ropes.
The Hawks meet Bendigo United starting this week, and then the ninth-placed Bendigo in the last round.
With the Redbacks second on the ladder and Bendigo having been a bogey side for the Hawks over the past two seasons, Eaglehawk is no guarantee to add to its 45 points.
The Power are surging, with wins in three of their past four games getting them back in the finals hunt.
Finals looked just about out of the question after round 10 when they sat two games out of the top four, but they have kept their season alive, with a massive score of 4-408 against Sandhurst last round helping their cause.
The big test comes this round when they play Strathdale-Maristians.
The Suns belted the Power by 141 runs in a one-day match last month, and the club has never beaten Strathdale-Maristians since the Huntly and North Bendigo merger in 2001-02.
After the clash with the Suns is White Hills – another club the Power have struggled against in recent years, but did beat in their last meeting.
The Power are in a situation where two wins may not be enough to get a finals berth – depending on other results – or one more win may be all it takes to finish in the top four again.
Prediction: Each team will win one more game and the ladder positions will remain as is.