Sport

Haisman Shield preview Katandra v Northerners

By Tyler Maher

There is a fine line between pleasure and pain.

Northerners know that all too well after straddling the line last weekend, losing a Haisman Shield semi-final to Numurkah, but remaining alive thanks to Cricket Shepparton’s finals system.

The Jets will find no luck in losing this weekend’s preliminary final against Katandra though, with a grand final berth on offer for the victor and simply a question of what could have been for the vanquished outfit.

‘‘I suppose it was a bit of a strange feeling last week being beaten but knowing we were going through,’’ Northerners coach Steve Allen said.

‘‘We’ve got nothing to lose, the positives from last week were that we batted out our 80 overs and bowled well to start with, but Numurkah just batted really well

‘‘We come into this weekend hopeful, but not overconfident.’’

Seven Jets made it to at least 18 against the Blues, but none were able to raise the bat for a half-century — with exacting full toll on Katandra’s bowling attack high on the priority list for Northerners starting tomorrow at Katandra Recreation Reserve.

‘‘Against good teams you’ve got to make the most of good starts and go on with it,’’ Allen said.

‘‘We’ve more or less had the same side the last few rounds and have been pretty settled, so we’ll go in similar again.

‘‘I just think that our best is good enough, so hopefully we can display something close to it and be very competitive.’’

Jets captain Mitch Brett (445 runs at 40.5 and 12 wickets at 19.8) and brother Joel (561 at 46.8) will hold the key to unlocking their side’s path towards the biggest weekend of the cricketing summer, with both capable of influencing the contest in all three disciplines.

For the Eagles, last weekend also brought mixed feelings.

After dominating Kyabram with the ball, Luke Nolan and his charges almost fell short of the 127 runs required for victory — eventually sneaking over the line by two wickets.

The defending champions will look to rectify that rare batting stumble against the Jets though and book a third straight ticket to the Haisman Shield decider.

‘‘There’s a bit of relief after getting out of jail last week,’’ Eagles co-captain Nolan said.

‘‘We bowled and fielded really well, but it was a disappointing effort from the top order with the bat.

‘‘We’ll stick with the same side, we’ve been pretty settled most of the year and I’m confident we can turn it around with the bat from last week.

‘‘We know they’re a dangerous side, we have to be at the top of our game to beat them.

‘‘Mitch and Joel have had really good years and are classy bats, but their bowling is pretty underrated, they set tight fields and bowl well to them, so I think it’s going to be a hard slog with bat and ball.’’

The Eagles will enjoy playing in front of a home crowd once again tomorrow and Sunday, with the extra support welcomed with open arms by the playing group.

‘‘Obviously there’s a comfort level there playing at home and the support always helps,’’ Nolan said.

‘‘The pitch was pretty good last weekend even though the scores didn’t reflect it and it should be good to bat on again this weekend.’’

Hadleigh Sirett (34 not out from 79 deliveries) steered Katandra home with the bat against the Redbacks, with the likes of Nolan, Ben Clurey and Scott Richardson hoping to do the job up the order against the Jets.