WHITE Hills is staring at the prospect of its drought-breaking return to the BDCA finals last summer being just a one-season wonder if the Demons can’t shrug off their poor batting form.
The Demons have only one win from the first five rounds ahead of what looms as a season-defining clash against Bendigo at Axis Employment Oval starting Saturday.
The Demons will be desperately hoping for some luck at the toss, with captain Mitch Winter-Irving having lost all four so far and White Hills having had to chase each time.
Batting collapses of 8-91, 10-49 and 9-81 have proven costly in the three games the Demons have been beaten in, which is a trend White Hills must rectify if it’s to get its season back on track.
After winning its first two games, Bendigo has hit a speedbump with back-to-back losses the past two games against Eaglehawk and Bendigo United.
Last round’s loss to Eaglehawk – which featured Nathan Fitzpatrick’s 8-29 – was the one that got away when the Goers were unable to chase down the Hawks’ 116.
• Kangaroo Flat will be on the rebound from its first defeat when it takes on Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park.
The Roos’ batting confidence would have taken a hit last week when they crashed from 2-70 to all out for 143 against Sandhurst, and they must now confront an Eaglehawk bowling line-up that was able to defend a meagre 116 against Bendigo and has Richard Tibbett back.
The Roos haven’t beaten Eaglehawk since 2010-11.
• With its first win of the season on the board reigning premier Strathdale will target a second in a row against Golden Square at All Seasons Oval.
Square is laying a solid platform for a red-hot crack at returning to the finals, having already won three games, including its past two against Strathfieldsaye and White Hills with scores of 8-252 and 262 batting first.
The Suns are craving consistency with the bat, with the side still only having had one score of at least 50 among the 39 wickets it has lost.
• Ladder-leading Sandhurst – the only unbeaten team – is at home to Huntly-North Epsom at Bendigo Door Centre Weeroona Oval.
The Dragons have left-arm off-spinner Sam Sperling coming off 7-40 against Kangaroo Flat last week, with both he and Craig Howard having now taken 14 wickets.
The Power will be determined to get back to their earlier form with the bat after being bundled out for 128 by Strathdale last round.
• Bendigo United should continue on its winning way at Harry Trott Oval when it plays Strathfieldsaye in a game that pits the top-ranked batting side (Redbacks) against the 10th-ranked bowling line-up (Jets).
• Prediction: Bendigo United.
Sandhurst – 27
Bendigo United – 21
Kangaroo Flat – 21
Golden Square – 21
Bendigo – 15
Eaglehawk – 15
Huntly-North – 9
Strathdale – 9
White Hills – 9
Strathfieldsaye – 3
• Meanwhile, this round’s BDCA Challenge captains:
Ozzie (2631): Andrew Smith (AR). Westy (2574): Sam Sperling (AR). Bourkey (2413): Craig Howard (AR). Lucky Stew (1700): Jack Neylon (AR).