Emphasis on adding intensity

January 05, 2018

Close to home: Central Park-St Brendan's young gun Ethan Baxter missed the last game before the break while playing in the Marist Carnival but is back up for selection.

Shepparton United will take to Princess Park for the first time this season when it hosts Central Park-St Brendan’s tomorrow.

After a new pitch was lifted and layed at John Riordan Oval, United will finally play its first home game of the season and captain Dwain Vidler can’t wait.

‘‘You get sick of playing away all the time, so it’s good to have a home match,’’ Vidler said.

‘‘It’s a tough challenge for us coming up against a good side, so we’ll have to make sure we turn up and are ready to go.’’

The state of the new pitch has given Vidler another incentive to stay out of the extreme heat, with the flat deck inviting the team that wins the toss to bat.

Importantly, experienced performer Chris Rendina returns to the side to provide strength to the batting line-up, with Vidler again asking for consistency.

‘‘We know we can match it, we just have to bridge the gap between our best and our worst, that’s been the story of the year,’’ Vidler said.

United has recorded just the one victory against Old Students in November as its totals posted and wickets taken continue to trail much of the competition.

But that means nothing to Tigers coach Andrew Cowen, who knows what United can produce.

In the opening round of the season, Central Park-St Brendan’s snuck across the line to defeat Vidler’s troops by one wicket in a low-scoring affair.

In the one-day match, the Tigers just managed to surpass United’s total of 97 and Cowen said he believed tomorrow’s opposition was deserving of being further up the ladder than its ninth-place standing.

‘‘I think that I said then that it was a lucky escape that one, but we’re a different unit and we’ve played some good cricket,’’ Cowan said.

‘‘We’re certainly aware of what they can do, they’ve been really good and unlucky with results, so it’s not a real assertion of where they are now.’’

With Cowen’s group gathering last night for the first time this year, he said the emphasis was on bringing added intensity to the contest.

The Tigers are solely focused on the job at hand, ignoring the potential of weather souring their ability to get out on the field as the side bolts towards finals.

With young players blooded through the group more than holding their own in the Haisman Shield, Cowen was rapt they were all again available for selection.

Josh Larkin returns from a solid showing for Victoria Country in the national championships, while Ethan Baxter and James Boyer spent part of last month plying their trade at the Marist Cricket Carnival.

Versatile Connor Holland also is available for Cowen, after he missed the final game because of state hockey commitments at the School Sport Victoria Pacific Games.

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