Crucial round as finals fight rages on

WITH just six points separating second to sixth on the ladder, a crucial round of Bendigo District Cricket Association two-day matches are in store starting Saturday.

At Bell Oval, Strathdale-Maristians will battle Huntly-North Epsom in a clash of second versus sixth.

The Power are one of the form teams of the competition as they continue to keep their finals hopes alive.

Their 63-run win over White Hills last week was their fifth in their past six games.

Their only loss during that period was to the Suns by eight wickets in a one-day match in round eight.

One player the Power will be keen to see the back of particularly early will be damaging Strathdale-Maristians batsman Adrian Pappin.

In round eight against Huntly Pappin smashed 87 n.o. off 59 balls, while in round 10 last season he crunched 75 off 27 balls against the Power.

Three-time defending premiers Strathdale are still vulnerable inside the top four after last week's five-wicket loss to Bendigo United.

As well as this clash against the in-form Power, the Suns - who will be captained by Cameron Taylor with Linton Jacobs unavailable - also have a showdown with the undefeated Golden Square in the final round.

Last time: Strathdale-Maristians 2-141 d Huntly-North Epsom 6-138.

• White Hills and Bendigo United also lock horns in what's a finals-shaping clash between the third and fifth teams at KWD Oval.

Chasing their first finals berth since 1999, the Demons now have the task ahead of them after dropping out of the top four.

Having been 7-2 after nine rounds and in second position on the ladder, the Demons have been beaten by Huntly-North Epsom and Bendigo in their past two rounds to slip to fifth.

They did defeat Bendigo United in round eight in a one-dayer, but the rejuvenated Redbacks are on the march, having downed Strathdale-Maristians and thumped Strathfieldsaye in their past two games.

With no Leigh McDermott this game, the Redbacks - who will wear pink caps in support of Pink Stumps Day - will be skippered by Nick Crawford.

Last time: White Hills 8-217 d Bendigo United 8-215.

• Bendigo will chase its fourth win in a row when it hosts Eaglehawk at Bendigo District RSL Oval.

Coupled with the Goers' new-found form and their recent record against the more-fancied Eaglehawk, this looms as a danger game for the Hawks.

All three of Bendigo's wins in a row have been tight games in which the Goers have chased down targets, with Mark Ryan leading the way with scores of 73, 42 and 91.

Eaglehawk is back in the top four after last week's comfortable win over Sandhurst in which their batting clicked, led by 87 from Matt Fitt.

Last time: Eaglehawk 136 d Bendigo 81.

• Top-of-the-ladder Golden Square takes on the battling Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane.

Square, which will again be without key bowler Darren Clutton, continues to boast an unblemished record after last week's five-wicket victory over Kangaroo Flat.

Strathfieldsaye will be hoping to produce a more competitive performance than its round eight one-day game against Square when it was comprehensively outplayed.

Last time: Golden Square 7-250 d Strathfieldsaye 129.

• Sandhurst hosts Kangaroo Flat at Advanced Landscape Oval (Weeroona Oval) in a battle of the two bottom sides.

The Dragons  will be captained by Shane Robinson in the absence of Craig Howard, which will please Kangaroo Flat after he was Sandhurst's match-winner against the Roos in round eight.

Last time: Sandhurst 5-195 d Kangaroo Flat 7-192.

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