Sport

Haisman Shield round 10 preview | Numurkah v Katandra

By Tyler Maher

Tomorrow's Cricket Shepparton clash between Numurkah and Katandra has been circled in a plethora of calendars for close enough to six months.

The modern-day Haisman Shield titans — who have broken long premiership droughts in recent years — meet again for the first time since last campaign's decider.

When A-grade fixtures were first released it was expected this round 10 contest would arrive with both outfits near the top of the table, and the Blues and Eagles have ensured those predictions rung true.

“We've been looking at this game for a while,” Numurkah captain Liam Gledhill said.

“We're on top and they're second by percentage, so it's going to be a really important game for us.”

Not only do the sides occupy the top two positions on the ladder, their spots on the one-day table are unobtainable for third-placed Kyabram heading into the final 45-over round tomorrow, meaning Gledhill's Blues and Jedd Wright's Eagles have already booked another date for the February 9 decider.

But that does not make tomorrow's battle at Numurkah Showgrounds a dead-rubber by any stretch of the imagination.

“You've got to look a bit further than the one day final, it's more about jostling for position for later in the season I suppose,” Gledhill said.

“You want to take every advantage over your opposition that you can and we want to finish as high as we possibly can heading into finals.”

Numurkah blew the post-Christmas cobwebs out with a dominant victory against Karramomus last week as all-rounder Michael Eckard played the starring role.

The South African hit an unbeaten 107 and took 2-17 in a stirring display.

“It was a job that we had to do,” Gledhill said.

“Obviously they're pretty young and raw so we had to go out there and play to our ability and the result would take care of itself.

“(Eckard) took some really good form from the Twenty20 comp just before Christmas and I'm glad that he's brought that across into the Haisman, he was hitting them really well and going at a fair clip.

“We all know what he can do with the ball, but I'm really looking forward to him producing consistently with the bat as well.”

Eckard's 407 A-grade runs have come at an average of 67.8 this season, while he also has 13 wickets at 22.2 and impressed on his Goulburn Valley Bush Bash League debut on Sunday with the Cobram Panel Works Panthers.

Katandra made a statement of its own last round, rolling fellow title contender Mooroopna for just 120 thanks to Hadleigh Sirett (4-10) and Corey Hickford (3-28) before Ben Clurey (69) and Brady Black (45 not out) piled on the runs.

There should be plenty of opportunity for big totals at Numurkah tomorrow too, with Gledhill forecasting a deck conducive to batting.

“It should be a really good game, hopefully we get a good crowd out there,” he said.

“We've got a brand new roller, it arrived on Tuesday, so it should be a pretty flat road we think.

“Everyone has been keen to get on the new roller and test it out, so we're not expecting too many demons.”