Coming back from the Christmas break and with finals in their sights it’s time for the Deni Rhinos to prove themselves as a contender when they host reigning premier Nathalia in the Murray Valley Cricket Association.
The Rhinos will be looking to make it six wins on the trot in the match that will see third place up for grabs for the winner.
One massive advantage for Deni is that the one-day match, being played tomorrow, is on home soil at Memorial Park, where they are yet to drop a game.
It’s these final rounds that will define whether the Rhinos deserve to play finals or not, according to co-captain Andrew Hogan.
‘‘It’s good that we’ve scored the wins we have but now we have to knock-off one of the better teams in the competition,’’ he said.
‘‘Nathalia are a pretty good side who have been up near the top for many years so we need to beat them to deserve to play finals.
‘‘Preferably we want to win at least two games against the top sides as well as beating Katamatite.
‘‘If we can do that then we should be able to make finals. But we can’t just settle with making finals if we get there.’’
Hogan has a clear strategy in mind if the Rhinos win the toss, which is to bat first and put pressure on the Purples.
‘‘They’re similar to us in the sense that they haven’t been great at chasing down targets,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to bat well, try and score heavily and put them on the back foot so they feel the pressure.
‘‘Hopefully we can have Burgs (Brodie Bennett) find some form with the bat because he has the ability to score big.
‘‘If we can have Wriggler (Anthony Bradley) score big too then we should be in a great position to win.’’
The task will be made tough with opening batsman Ash Germano unavailable this week.
Another blow could be Hogan’s fellow co-captain Brad Todd with his availability not known before the Pastoral Times went to print.
‘‘It’s hard coming back from the Christmas break to know who’s available but I’d assume Boddie Arthur would come back up to Premier this week,’’ Hogan said.
‘‘I believe Luke Carter may be missing from their line-up with a wrist injury so if he’s unable to play then that will help us a lot.
‘‘But Ash Quinn is one we really have to look out for. He has the ability to keep the scoreboard ticking over and can get the job done with the ball too.’’
Quinn is currently Nathalia’s leading run scorer with 450 at 112 for the year and also has impressive bowling figures of 10 at 14.
Another player who was pin pointed by Hogan is import Eddie Watson (17 at 14.47 this season).
‘‘He looks like a slippery pace bowler so we’ll have to bat smart when facing him,’’ Hogan said.
Deni Rhinos Division One side will also play host to Nathalia tomorrow afternoon at Memorial Park Oval number one.
The Purples are on top of the ladder with just one blemish on their record.
It will be a tough game for the sixth placed Rhinos but a win will boost their finals aspirations.