The whips are about to start cracking in the Murray Valley Cricket Association’s premier division competition.
Tomorrow marks the first two-day game of the season for the top tier teams, but — depending on which way results fall — could already mark the end of one side’s finals chances.
Tocumwal must find a way to leave Barooga Recreation Reserve with a victory after it takes on the Hawks, as defeat will almost certainly spell the end of its hopes for a finals berth.
The Bloods are already two games off the pace of the top four, but with the Hawks occupying that all-important fourth spot on the table the cellar-dwellers have the chance to draw within one victory of tomorrow’s opponent.
Jesse Barker leads Tocumwal’s batting group with 201 runs at 50.25 for the season, with Daniel Hibberd (139 runs) and Ranji Oliver (108) also holding their heads high.
Meanwhile, Matt Wilson (12 wickets at 19.5) has been superb with the ball for the outfit, with Barker (eight at 26.25) next best.
For the Hawks, Riley Gow (10 wickets at 17.7) and Sam Leigh (eight at 22) have been crucial with the ball and Trent Batchelor (215 runs at 53.75) and Kale Watkins (158 at 39.5) with the bat.
At the other end of the ladder, Cobram and Katamatite will look to claw their way to a win in a top-of-the-table clash between the two Tigers teams in the division.
A refreshed Cobram will again utilise the destructive powers of South African import Wian Van Zyl, who has clubbed 762 runs at 152.4 in just six outings this season — as well as snaring seven wickets at 10.14.
But the ladder-leader has not only relied on Van Zyl this campaign, with Adam De Cicco (11 wickets at 13.09), Izac Artavilla (151 runs at 25.17) and James Daniel (seven at 17.29 and 105 at 35) regularly impressing.
Katamatite has its own weapons to draw on as well, with three batsmen and three bowlers in the top 10 tables of their respective disciplines — led by Andrew Erickson (194 runs at 38.8) and Colin Watson (13 wickets at 14.15).
In the other round eight contest beginning tomorrow, Nathalia hosts Deniliquin at Nathalia Showgrounds.
The Purples have won their past two matches, while the Rhinos have tasted defeat in consecutive rounds.