Tongala might have miraculously found its way into Goulburn Murray Cricket finals, but it might need another prayer answered to compete with Rochester United in this weekend’s semi-final at Moon Oval.
After sneaking into finals with only two losses in the past 10 games — not to mention with a bit of help from Moama’s disappointing close to the season — the Blues must acquit themselves better with the bat than they did in round 11 against United.
United struggled to 9-144 that day, but battered the Blues with the ball, ripping through them for 71 in a show of how dangerous its bowlers can be.
With dangerman Dylan Cuttriss missing half the season with a broken hand, the bowling unit has been remarkably balanced with Sean Williams (19 wickets), Myles Wade (16), Mark McFarlane (15) and Angus Martin (13) all factors the Tonny bats will have to deal with.
United’s hopes of a perfect season were ruined by a thumping loss at the hands of Kyabram Fire Brigade, but it has clearly shown itself to be A-grade’s highest quality and most consistent side heading into finals.
Meanwhile, Tongala kick-started its season with a five-game winning streak between rounds three and seven, winning a series of close games to find its feet.
Darin Ohlsen has carried the load with the bat making 339 runs at a tidy clip of 31, while Jayden Tucker (269) and Blake Campbell (250) have contributed well.
The batting line-up has punched above its weight during the campaign, but will need to take it to another level to match up with United’s dynamic attack.
●The second semi-final has red-hot Kyabram Fire Brigade host Cooma at the Northern Oval.
The Flames have exploded into form with six wins on the trot, driven by some swashbuckling batting displays.
Seven of their players average more than 30 with the bat, with any one of them capable of batting an opposition side out of the game.
Brodie Unwin has led the way with the ball, but mid-season inclusion Mick Mattingly has been quite simply unplayable, with 15 wickets at a stunning average of 7.1.
Cooma beat the Flames before their mid-season renaissance, bowling them out for 138 with Drew Barrett’s 5-30 doing the damage.
It has many X-factor players, but none more so than skipper Michael Hill, whose brilliant campaign has seen him make 340 runs and take 24 wickets.
If he and his bowling colleagues can shut down the Kyabram top order, Cooma has a clear path to the decider.
Played tomorrow and Sunday, the two winners will square off in the following weekend’s grand final at the Moama Oval.