Sledgefest? on cards
By TONY WHITE
UNLIKE the old goldfish joke, cricketers have long memories akin to elephants. And any player who manages to get under another's skin cour- tesy of sledging, can bet his bot- tom dollar a square up is just around the corner. The last time defending prem- iers Westlawn Grafton Hotel and this season's clear competition leaders, Harwood Hilton met in the Bananacoast Community Cred- it Union Premier League, a couple of senior players didn't mince their words in a bristling ex- change that drew the attention of teammates from both sides. Call it sledging or otherwise but some of the wounds from that encounter are still festering. For both teams it is a must win encounter. The possibility of a 'sledgefest' only adds spice and intrigue to the round six, top of the table clash at Barry Watts Oval. Harwood's Lazarus-like defeat of Westlawn in the round two match set the stage for the down river men's title conquest this season. It was the first time in nearly 18 months perennial premiers Westlawn had been beaten. "It would be great to knock them over twice before the finals," Harwood captain Tim McMahon said. "It's a very impor- tanbt game for us and I guess them as well. "If we can get away with this one it would stand us in good stead for the minor premiership. "Every one is high in spirits and rearin' to go." The experienced McMahon be- lieves the club's depth this season has helped catapult them to the top of the ladder. "We've got more depth this year, especially in the batting line up, and many of the blokes are believing in themselves," he said. The addition of Craig Moran and all rounder Peter Hickey, a school teacher from Armidale with a wealth of experience, has added a new realm to Harwood. Moran and fast bowler Dave
Cowan are the club's leading wicket takers but Hickey has also bagged a heap of wickets and is averaging more than 60 runs this season. "Peter's a tough player who re- ally values his wicket," McMahon said. Hickey and Westlawn's Andrew Firth are battling it out for crick- eter-of-the-year honours. Harwood will be without steely opener Ed Munday, Andrew Whi- teside and Luke Richardson this weekend. Westlawn captain Tony Blanch is still miffed at the circum- stances of his teams last defeat by Harwood. "We had them seven for 50 odd, let them off the hook and they ended up with 200 plus," Blanch said. "The toss will be very impor- tant to win. It will be a matter of adapting to the wicket which pre- viously has been one that can produce low scores. "Harwood are going very well. It's a matter of our blokes getting their minds back on the job." Brothers will be without New Zealand tourists Matt Ryan and Mick Summers for its game against in-form South Services at Ellem Oval. "Stewart Jonkers won't be there either having returned to South Africa for six weeks and Corey Bertalli is still away on holidays," captain Troy McLaren said.
Sam Jackson returns and Pat Vidler will come up from second grade.
Brothers beat Souths when they met in round two, but since then South have established them- selves in the competition lying second on the premiership ladder.
East Royal Tavern take on GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst at McKittrick Oval.
Tucabia captain Damien Rouse said Matt Blanch returns after a long lay off with an arm injury.
"We're all keen to make the semis. We want to finish the sea- son on a high note and we're all having fun which is the main thing," Rouse said.