The equation facing Tatura tomorrow is as simple as it gets — secure victory or say goodbye to the prospect of Haisman Shield finals action.
Tim Kelly’s young charges only sit one game behind sixth-placed Mooroopna, but if they were to fall to Old Students tomorrow and the Cats claimed victory against Northerners then the gap would be as good as unassailable.
Even if that was to happen, Tatura could still hold its head high.
After finishing last the past four seasons, Tatura’s three wins to date is its best output since before that run of wooden spoons.
The influx of talent such Connor Hayes (284 runs at an average of 28.4 and 11 wickets at 24.2) and Tom Dinnis (19 wickets at 13.8), combined with the continued form of Kelly (353 runs at 39.22) and development of Michael Archer (243 runs at 24.3) and Jayden Armstrong (10 wickets at 22.7), among others, has taken the club from attempting to avoid finishing last to fighting for a finals spot.
Kelly will blood another rising star tomorrow, Armstrong’s younger brother Blake.
Blake, 15, has scored 137 runs and taken 10 wickets across all matches (junior and senior) this season, and will be rewarded with his A-grade debut at Kialla Recreation Reserve.
For the Students, their premiership defence will go down as a campaign of near-misses.
For much of the early part of the season Luke McPhillamy’s side led the competition for runs scored, and still remains the fourth-ranked team with the willow.
But an inability to defend big totals — largely through poor fielding — has led to the Students securing just one win in eight completed matches.
The final three rounds presents an opportunity for McPhillamy’s charges to damage the finals aspirations of Tatura, Central Park-St Brendan’s and Katandra, but also avoid dropping from first to last in the space of 12 months.
The return of coach Daniel Coombs will help the home side’s cause, while Felix Odell (335 runs at 37.22) has been outstanding with the bat.