Goulburn Murray ready for Bendigo Country Week challenge

GOULBURN Murray team manager Dylan Cuttriss says his side is ready to embrace the challenge of being the hunted in division one of the Bendigo Country Week cricket carnival that starts on Monday.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: The Goulburn Murray side that won last year's division one Country Week title against Murray Valley at the QEO. Picture: NONI HYETT

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: The Goulburn Murray side that won last year's division one Country Week title against Murray Valley at the QEO. Picture: NONI HYETT

Goulburn Murray enters the 2018 carnival as the defending division one premier after claiming its second title in four seasons last year by thrashing Murray Valley by eight wickets in the final.

It will be a new-look Goulburn Murray side that returns to Bendigo for its title defence, but one that Cuttriss is confident will equip itself well.

Of the team that won last year’s title, the only returning players for Goulburn Murray are Cuttriss, fellow team manager Michael Hill, Darcy Elliott and Shannon Bish.

“It’s always tough for players to get the week off, and there’s also Melbourne Country Week coming up next month, but we’re very confident we’ll have a side that is going to be very competitive,” Cuttriss said.

“We won it last year and we’re certainly keen to have another good crack at it.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in the first few days to get yourself in a position to play in the final, but if we can do the right things early on then we’re confident we’ll give ourselves a chance to have a crack on the Friday.”

Goulburn Murray will be joined by Emu Valley, Northern Districts, Castlemaine, Gisborne and Murray Valley in division one.

Castlemaine has been promoted after winning the division two title last year.

Emu Valley has been given a reprieve in division one. After going through last year’s carnival winless and finishing last, Emu Valley has held its spot in the top division following the withdrawal of Ferntree Gully.

Monday’s opening day is highlighted by the grand final rematch between Goulburn Murray and Murray Valley at Rochester’s Moon Oval.

This year’s carnival again features three divisions and a total of 20 teams competing.

REPRIEVE: Emu Valley captain Rick Ladson. Emu Valley has retained its spot in division one following the withdrawal of Ferntree Gully.

REPRIEVE: Emu Valley captain Rick Ladson. Emu Valley has retained its spot in division one following the withdrawal of Ferntree Gully.

A hot week is ahead for players, with four of the five days to be played in at least 33 degree temperatures, with a particular watch on Thursday when the maximum is forecast to be 41.

• 2018 COUNTRY WEEK DRAW:

DIVISION 1

MONDAY:

Emu Valley v Northern Districts at Windridge Oval

Castlemaine v Gisborne at Camp Reserve

Goulburn Murray v Murray Valley at Moon Oval

TUESDAY:

Northern Districts v Murray Valley at White Hills

Gisborne v Emu Valley at Eaglehawk

Goulburn Murray v Castlemaine at Kangaroo Flat

WEDNESDAY:

Castlemaine v Murray Valley at Wesley Hill

Emu Valley v Goulburn Murray at Strathdale

Gisborne v Northern Districts at White Hills

THURSDAY:

Gisborne v Murray Valley at Eaglehawk

Emu Valley v Castlemaine at Strathfieldsaye

Northern Districts v Goulburn Murray at Kangaroo Flat

FRIDAY:

Final at QEO

…………………………..

DIVISION 2

MONDAY:

Wangaratta v Maryborough at QEO

Portland v Grassmere at Golden Square

Colac v Red Cliffs at Kangaroo Flat

TUESDAY:

Red Cliffs v Wangaratta at Kennington

Maryborough v Portland at Golden Square

Grassmere v Colac at Weeroona Oval

WEDNESDAY:

Portland v Wangaratta at Eaglehawk

Colac v Maryborough at Weeroona Oval

Grassmere v Red Cliffs at Kennington

THURSDAY:

Wangaratta v Colac at Kennington

Red Cliffs v Portland at Strathdale

Grassmere v Maryborough at Maryborough

FRIDAY:

Final at Strathdale

…………………………..

DIVISION 3

MONDAY:

Bendigo  Colts v Upper Loddon at White Hills

Colac Colts v Wimmera-Mallee at Eaglehawk

Grampians Colts v Swan Hill at Weeroona Oval

Grassmere v Northern United at North Bendigo

TUESDAY:

Wimmera-Mallee v Grampians Colts at Strathfieldsaye

Northern United v Colac Colts at Huntly

Swan Hill v Bendigo Colts at Strathdale

Upper Loddon v Grassmere at North Bendigo

WEDNESDAY:

Northern United v Grampians Colts at Raywood

Bendigo Colts v Wimmera-Mallee at Strathfieldsaye

Colac Colts v Grassmere at Huntly

Swan Hill v Upper Loddon at Kangaroo Flat

THURSDAY:

Grassmere v Grampians Colts at Huntly

Colac Colts v Bendigo Colts at Golden Square

Swan Hill v Wimmera-Mallee at North Bendigo

Upper Loddon v Northern United at Heathcote

FRIDAY:

Final at Strathfieldsaye

…………………………..

FORECAST TEMPERATURES:

Monday – 28

Tuesday – 33

Wednesday – 36

Thursday – 41

Friday – 38

…………………………..

RECENT PREMIERS:

DIVISION 1

2017 – Goulburn Murray

2016 – Gisborne

2015 – Northern Districts

2014 – Goulburn Murray

2013 – Ferntree Gully

2012 – Murray Valley

2011 – Murray Valley

DIVISION 2

2017 – Castlemaine

2016 – Murray Valley

2015 – Gisborne

2014 – Emu Valley

2013 – Deniliquin

2012 – Gisborne

2011 – Portland

DIVISION 3

2017 – Wangaratta

2016 – Maryborough

2015 – Red Cliffs

2014 – Bendigo Colts

2013 – Goulburn

Murray Colts

2012 – Swan Hill

2011 – Wimmera-Mallee