WEST Warrnambool will monitor the fitness of star import Karl Turner in the lead-up to Sunday’s one-day cup grand final after injury kept him out of a country week squad trial game yesterday.
Turner ruled himself out of the match against the Western Waves’ under 18 side at Allansford because of a back-related hamstring problem.
But he played for the Panthers in Saturday’s big win over Dennington which all but sealed them a place in the one-day cup grand final.
The undefeated Panthers strangled Dennington’s batsmen, who managed just 8-91 from their 45 overs. West then claimed a six-wicket win when it chased down the victory target with 46 balls remaining.
West co-coach Dean Hurford said his side was delighted to be one game ahead of its Merri conference rivals heading into Saturday’s final round of one-day matches.
“We would have to cop a flogging and Wesley-CBC would have to win by 100 runs (for us to miss the grand final),” he said. “It would be nice to win the one-day cup. It would be fantastic, but we are focused on the big picture at the end of the year.
“We always wanted to win all our (five) games before Christmas, if not 4-1. It sets you up for after Christmas.”
Hurford said the Panthers wouldn’t be distracted by Sunday’s one-day final.
“We still have to beat Nestles on Saturday,” he said.
Two matches in two days wouldn’t faze his players, with Turner’s niggle the only worry.
West had few problems on Saturday after paceman Tom Smith (3-26) and Simon Johnson (0-10 from nine overs, including three maidens) piled on the pressure. Smith removed both openers to have the visitors 2-7 before Turner picked up 2-14 off his nine overs.
The Dogs had five batsmen make double figures but none could get beyond 18.
Dennington skipper Dustin Drew took 3-16 off his nine overs before Leigh Johnson (23 not out) and captain Michael Threlfall (13 not out) combined for an unbeaten 36-run fifth-wicket stand to seal the result for the Panthers.
Dennington’s second consecutive loss ended its chances of qualifying for the one-day final, with the top side in each conference to meet on Sunday.
Wesley-CBC captain Andrew Cheeseman has conceded his second-placed side will miss out on a place in the grand final even if it defeats Port Fairy on Saturday.
The Beavers claimed their third consecutive win on Saturday with a three-wicket triumph over Nirranda at Walter Oval.
Chasing Nirranda’s 125 from 42 overs, Wesley-CBC reached the target seven wickets down with 22 balls remaining after Joe Higgins made an unbeaten 36 to hold the innings together.
“We just scraped in at the end,” Cheeseman said. “At the start of the day we wanted to finish 3-1 and we did.”
Cheeseman said Nirranda’s bowlers had done well to reel in his side’s fast start, which saw it reach 40 in less than seven overs before James Dalton picked up 3-15 in the second half of its innings.
Cheeseman said the Beavers were focusing on the clash with Port Fairy on Saturday and not the one-day final.
“We won’t catch up that,” he said of the net run rate difference between his side and West Warrnambool.
“Hopefully we can, but we aren’t too worried about it if we can get to 4-1.”
Nestles captain Brett Eldridge said his players were relieved to register the side’s first win of the season with a 67-run triumph over Port Fairy at Avery’s Paddock.
The Factory, thanks to 65 from opener Geoff Williams and 45 from Eldridge, made 6-190 before a change in bowling tactics saw them skittle Port Fairy for 123 in the 38th over.
“It’s a relief, there is no doubt about it,” Eldridge said.
“We’ve been playing pretty good cricket but, being a pretty young side, we are still learning how to play together.
“It was probably the best brand of cricket we have played in 18 months.”
Eldridge said the decision to use raw pacemen Matt Price (2-25) and Glenn Hannah (1-13) to open the bowling instead of one after the other had paid dividends.
Eldridge said his players now faced a big challenge against West next week.
“The challenge is to try and push West first and foremost. Obviously they are playing some very good cricket,” he said.