UNITED will be striving to become the first team to defeat Spring Gully when the Emu Valley Cricket Association season returns to the one-day format on Saturday.
The Tigers have endured an up-and-down season so far, reaching the halfway mark in fourth position with a 3-3-1 record.
United has been by far the most unsettled line-up this season, having already used 28 different batsmen compared to the average of 15.8 across the other seven teams.
The Crows have put together an impressive first half of the season to be the only undefeated team in the competition.
Of the top 10 scores so far this season, four of them have been made by the Crows – 5-366 against West Bendigo, 313 against Golden Gully, 9-265 against West Bendigo and 7-243 against Maiden Gully.
Rhys Webb has been in outstanding form with the bat for the Crows, with his past two knocks yielding scores of 121 and 107 n.o. that has helped move him to the top of the Addy’s EVCA MVP rankings.
Only four players have surpassed 300 runs so far this season, with two of them Crows’ batsmen – Webb (380) and Joel Bish (330).
Last time: United 8-200 d Spring Gully 151.
Since 2008: United 11; Spring Gully 5.
Prediction: Spring Gully.
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MANDURANG v SEDGWICK
Shapes as a competitive contest between second and third on the ladder.
While there has been plenty of hype around the Rams after their strong off-season recruiting, the Rangas are quietly going about their business.
The Rangas have their two leading run-scorers in Luke Rafferty (74) and Phil Berry (72) coming off half-centuries in their last innings, but that was two games ago after rain denied Mandurang a bat against Marong last round.
The Rams’ only blemish so far has been a loss to Spring Gully, with one of the standouts for the side being Jordan Ilsley.
Ilsley has bagged 19 wickets, which includes 13 in the past three games.
Last time: Sedgwick 9-289 d Mandurang 282.
Since 2008: Mandurang 7; Sedgwick 2.
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WEST BENDIGO v MAIDEN GULLY
After an encouraging start to the season Maiden Gully has hit the skids.
Having had a 3-1 record after the opening four rounds of the season – all one-dayers – the Gully has since lost its past three games, which have all been two-dayers.
Perhaps the return of the shortened game will give Maiden Gully the spark its season needs to get reignited to keep in touch with the top four.
West Bendigo lost all four of its one-dayers to start the season, but if Travis O’Connell can continue his blistering form in which he has averaged 301 in his past three innings, the Redbacks will be right in this contest.
Last time: Maiden Gully 8-283 d West Bendigo 173 & 5-113.
Since 2008: West Bendigo 7; Maiden Gully 2.
Prediction: Maiden Gully.
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MARONG v GOLDEN GULLY
Opportunity for the reigning premier Cobras to make it two in a row after they were the big winners of last round.
The Cobras were the only team to secure a win last weekend when they defeated Maiden Gully in what was a rain-affected round seven.
They now come up against the battling Marong, which has reached the halfway mark of the season winless.
Last time: Marong 263 d Golden Gully 252.
Since 2008: Marong 6; Golden Gully 2.
Prediction: Golden Gully.
Spring Gully – 108.5
Sedgwick – 102.2
Mandurang – 78.8
United – 65.8
Maiden Gully – 61.8
West Bendigo – 53.1
Golden Gully – 47.1
Marong – 28.6
412 – T. O’Connell (WB)
380 – R. Webb (SG)
346 – M. Dwyer (Sedg)
330 – J. Bish (SG)
291 – L. Brook (SG)
252 – D. Chamberlain (Sedg)
20 – B. Webster (GG)
19 – J. Ilsley (Sedg)
18 – R. Brown (MG)
16 – T. Wilson (Marong)
14 – B. Roy-Clements (Mand)
12 – J. Fox (SG)