SELECTION NIGHT - This weekend's Bendigo District and Emu Valley cricket teams
WEST Bendigo has the opportunity to take a major step in its quest for a first Emu Valley Cricket Association finals berth in eight years on Saturday when it rides a wave of momentum into its clash against Emu Creek.
The Redbacks have been in superb form since the re-start of the competition from the Christmas-New Year break.
From 21 points outside the top four when the season resumed, the Redbacks head into Saturday's round 12 now sitting inside the four having won their past three games.
With Mandurang, United and Spring Gully all looking likely finalists, the key point of intrigue in the top four fight from here appears to be which of West Bendigo or reigning premier Emu Creek will be the fourth team competing on semi-final Saturday in March.
Going into Saturday's match at JG Edwards Oval just 0.08 points separate the Redbacks and Emus, highlighting just how vital every run and wicket will be.
"We're chomping at the bit for Saturday and really excited for the challenge ahead," West Bendigo captain Josh Kinsman said on Friday.
"We've worked really hard to get ourselves into this position where it (a finals berth) is in our hands. We know that if we keep winning the prize is there for us and it's the first time in a long time we've been in this position, so it's exciting."
The surging Redbacks proved just how dangerous a side they can be last Saturday when they claimed the big scalp of Spring Gully by two runs, with the side's strong recent form coming after a slow start when they were 1-4 after five rounds.
"This week is a massive game... we want to be able to do what Emu Creek has done in terms of being successful. We've got huge respect for them," Kinsman said.
"We feel confident that if we play our best then we will be good enough to knock them off and that's the way we felt last week going into the Spring Gully game."
West Bendigo veteran Travis O'Connell has been in fine form with the bat with scores of 113 and 55 among his past three hits, while Daniel Whiting has hit his straps with the ball having taken hauls of 3-30 and 6-32, which included a hat-trick, in his past two games.
Emu Creek beat the Redbacks by 36 runs in round three.
Saturday's EVCA games - United v California Gully, Emu Creek v West Bendigo, Spring Gully v Axe Creek, Mandurang v Marong. Sedgwick bye.
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