Tonight gladiators will battle for eternal glory and traditional rivals fight for the grandest of prizes — and there will be a Twenty20 final as well.
Taking centre stage at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve will be the Shepparton News Fantasy Sport warriors who have taken this season’s Cricket Shepparton A-grade Twenty20 competition to breathtaking new heights.
On-field action will have Katandra head to its second straight T20 grand final, this year meeting Northerners in a decider that promises fireworks.
The towns, separated by just a few Jedd Wright sixes, will both be out for limited-over glory, both sides undefeated heading to the final.
Katandra booked its spot in the decider with a comfortable win against Old Students, having beaten Numurkah in its only preliminary stage contest, while the Jets won through on Tuesday night against Kyabram, having defeated Shepparton United and Central Park-St Brendan’s in the group stage.
But just as importantly, as many as five entrants can still win the fantasy league with one game to play, making team — and particularly captaincy — selection important.
Leading the way with one to play is Paul McInnes, the consistent fantasy animal producing another above-par score of 499 to move to first, with cricket legend Aiden Blizzard relegated to second place, a mere 14 points back.
Ashleigh Williamson completes the current podium (75 points behind the lead), with Kasey Duncan (104 back) and Xavier Brown (161 back) still outside chances.
Taking line honours in the semi-finals was Williamson, the astute judge of form picking six of the round’s top-10 performers for a brilliant score of 589, helped by whacking the captain’s tag on Katandra’s Wright to turn his 44 points into 88.
Abe Lake’s rags-to-riches story continued with a second-placed 565, one of just two entrants — along with the OTB Owls — to pick Katandra’s Ben Clurey in his huge display.
With entrants to choose half the players taking part in tonight’s grand final, scores have the potential to head through the roof.
●The Jets booked their place in the decider with a thrilling win against Kyabram on Tuesday night.
Set just 7-93 by the Redbacks on a tough batting deck, the Jets found little batting help outside of Tyson Sidebottom (25) and Mitch Brett (21) and were reeling at 6-64.
Kyabram fought hard and took a ninth wicket with the scores level, but a bye with four balls left sealed the Northerners’ win.
Tyson Sidebottom impressed with the ball taking 3-14, while Kyle Mueller took four wickets for the Redbacks.
Tyler's Maher's Musings' Marauders
Batsmen: Joel Brett, Mitch Brett, Tim Brett, Ben Clurey, Glen Davidson.
All-rounders: Jedd Wright, Scott Richardson, Andrew Riordan.
Wicketkeepers: Luke Nolan, Tyson Sidebottom.
Bowlers: Corey Hickford, Ryleigh Shannon, Hadleigh Sirett, Trent Sidebottom, Josh Sidebottom.
Comments: The last day in February is upon us, with the grand final of the inaugural Shepparton News Fantasy Sports competition sure to be hotly contested.
It is important to remember though that many teams will bear almost identical line-ups heading into tonight’s decider — meaning an out-there selection could separate the wheat from the chaff dramatically.
The Marauders are entrusting that responsibility to Katandra’s Ryleigh Shannon in the form of the captain’s armband.
While he has barely been needed with the bat this season, Shannon’s ability to take important wickets is where his scoring potential lies.
Look for three poles from the seamer at a low cost to send his team — and the Marauders — hurtling towards glory.
Scott Richardson will provide cover as vice-captain, while Glen Davidson, Andrew Riordan, Tyson Sidebottom and Josh Sidebottom work on a perfect cordial mix as joint 12th men.
Alex Mitchell's OTB Owls
Batsmen: Ben Clurey, Mitch Brett, Joel Brett, Tim Brett, Andrew Boyington.
All-rounders: Scott Richardson, Jedd Wright Trent Sidebottom.
Wicketkeepers: Tyson Sidebottom, Luke Nolan.
Bowlers: Josh Sidebottom, Grant Hutchins, Hadleigh Sirett, Ryleigh Shannon, Corey Hickford.
Comments: With only two teams to choose from my ability to get adventurous has been taken from me, so I’m just praying for the best.
I think the Jets will win the decider, so I’ve picked a few more of their players, but some Katandra stars — such as my boy Ben Clurey who did the job for me last week — will shine in a losing side.
Joel Brett picks himself given he has added wicket-taking to his game in recent matches, but the batting form of brother Mitch is captivating and somewhat underrated — I sense a huge captain’s knock from him in the decider.
I’m going with Eagle Hadleigh Sirett as my skipper, purely on a hunch he will take three wickets and add some lower-order runs, being a sensible batsman in his team’s time of need. Vice-captain honours go to Joel Brett.
The Tyson Sidebottom versus Luke ‘‘The Jockey’’ Nolan debate for the keeper slot is a genuine coin toss, but I see Sidebottom as a slightly superior Twenty20 player.
Overall leaders - TOP 15
1. Paul McInnes 2303
2. Aiden Blizzard 2289
3. Ashleigh Williamson 2228
4. Kasey Duncan 2199
5. Xavier Brown 2142
6. Josh Pearce 2084
7. Mitch McGrath 2051
8. Brenton Flemming 1959
9. Cooper Daniels 1892
10. Mark Bryant 1876
11. Alex Mitchell 1752
12. Tyler Maher 1722
13. Michael Van Dorsser 1673
14. Abe Lake 1605
15. Ron Anderson 1227
1. Ashleigh Williamson 589
2. Abe Lake 565
3. Ron Anderson 538
4. Mark Bryant 518
5. Kasey Duncan 511
6. Paul McInnes 499
7. Tyler Maher 493
8. Brenton Flemming 490
9. Xavier Brown 477
10. Mitch McGrath 475
11. Michael Van Dorsser 429
12. Aiden Blizzard 409
13. Josh Pearce 393
14. Alex Mitchell 381
15. Cooper Daniels 375