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SANDHURST highlights just how tight it is at the top of the Bendigo District Cricket Association ladder heading into the start of round 10 on Saturday.
Beat Golden Square at Wade Street and the second-placed Dragons will be back within half-a-game of top spot – not to mention the significant confidence-booster that would come with a win over the ladder-leaders.
But lose and the reigning premiers could potentially find themselves outside the top four, such is the ladder log jam.
With four two-day rounds left to play just six points separates Sandhurst (36), Huntly-North Epsom (34), Eaglehawk (31), (Strathdale-Maristians (30) and White Hills (30) from second to sixth.
Having one stage been 6-1, the Dragons have since lost two one-day games in a row to White Hills and Strathdale-Maristians that has helped to open the door back up to the top four for the Demons and Suns.
“It’s a massive game for us this week,” Dragons captain Taylor Beard said.
“If we win this one we’re still ahead of the ledger, but if we lose we’re right back in the pack.
“It’s vital we get back into some good form, play some solid cricket and, hopefully, come away with a win.”
Saturday signals the beginning of a testing run home for the Dragons, who as well as playing top side Square still have third-placed Huntly-North Epsom and fourth-placed Eaglehawk to come in their last four games.
“It’s a challenging draw with the three other teams in the top four still to come, but you’ve got to beat the best to be the best and we’re looking forward to what’s ahead over the next eight weeks,” Beard said.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get back on the winner’s list this game against Golden Square and stay on it.”
The Dragons take on a red-hot Square side that has won four in a row and is the most damaging batting line-up in the competition, led by Ben Gunn (415), Tim Wood (397) and Scott Woodman (313), who have combined for 1125 runs – and that includes having no second innings and, along with Eaglehawk, playing one less game than the other eight teams.
The only other team with a trio who have more than 1000 runs between them is White Hills with 1004 – Mitch Winter-Irving (375), Ollie Geary (315) and Gavin Bowles (314).
Last time Golden Square and Sandhurst met the Dragons won by one run in a semi-final last season.
Meanwhile, Strathfieldsaye continues to sit at the top of the Bendigo District Cricket Association Barry Ayres Spirit of Cricket rankings after nine rounds.
1. Strathfieldsaye – 73.85
2. Golden Square – 73.16
3. Bendigo United – 73.00
4. White Hills – 72.75
5. Strathdale – 72.53
6. Eaglehawk – 72.28
7. Sandhurst – 71.23
8. Kangaroo Flat – 70.94
9. Bendigo – 69.17
10. Huntly-North Epsom – 66.00
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