Harwood out to prove dominance in season decider
PREMIER LEAGUE GRAND FINAL: In a match a year in the making Tucabia-Copmanhurst will be out for redemption after the heavens cut them short in last season's Grand Final against Harwood.
But they will need to be at their best to defeat an almost unbeatable Harwood side who are out to prove their dominance over the Premier League competition.
Harwood enter the Grand Final as understandable favourites after only dropping one match in the 2015/16 season against Coutts Crossing.
But according to Harwood captain Nathan Ensbey the pressure of being favourites will not affect his side as they enter the pressure cooker believing it is just "business as usual".
"I don't think being favourites puts any more pressure on us," Ensbey said. "I think the boys have done well all year. The young blokes have all performed at different stages during the year, and guys with a bit more experience have stepped up as well when needed.
"We are obviously confident, we have trained well these last couple of weeks and the boys deserve to be confident. We're obviously wary about their team though, they are a bunch of experienced cricketers and as has been seen over the last month they know when to turn it on.
"We have the batsman there, we bat deep in our order and we have the depth. We have come up against these guys for a few years now, it will be a close tussle but I am confident we will get across the line."
It is a slightly different Harwood side than what took the field in last season's decider before rain interrupted play to hand Harwood the Premiership after claiming the Minor Premiership at the end of the regular season.
The departures of Geoff Simmons to Harwood's Lower Clarence Cricket Association side, Tim McMahon to retirement and opener Luke Harradine to Newcastle has opened the door for the Harwood youth to cement their spot in the side.
Young gun Harrison Nicholson has adopted the openers role this season and has gone from strength to strength scoring more than 300 runs for the Premier League season and becoming a rock at the top.
Lachlan Johnson and Jacob McMahon have also both stepped up this season into permanent roles in the Premier League side and have featured prominently with the ball in hand. Johnson also featured heavily with the bat guiding the Harwood side to victory in the major semi-final after putting on a 162-run partnership with Ben McMahon.
"For Jacob, Harrison and Lachlan it is their first Premier League grand final so obviously those blokes will have a fair bit of nerves," Ensbey said. "But there is a lot of experience in the side that will support those players through it. As soon as the first ball is bowled though, it will be business as usual for the boys.
"We are reasonably used to this time of year, there will obviously be a few nerves in the seasoned boys, but we know what to expect on Grand Final day."
In the back end of the season Harwood's top order have struggled to get off to good starts with two major collapses in their last two matches showing a slight chink in the juggernaut's armour.
And according to Tucabia-Copmanhurst captain Bob McKenzie, his bowling unit, which has been in superb form during the finals, will be looking to expose the top order shakiness in the defending Premiers.
"I wouldn't swap our bowling attack for any - in this season's competition or in years gone by," McKenzie said. "It is a pretty awesome attack. When you have got a former Australian Under 19 leading it and the support he gets at the other end from the old boy in Addo who has been a good bowler for a long time in the area.
"We just have got to hold our catches. The two times we have played them this season we have had them five for not many, but then that sixth and seventh partnership we have struggled to get past and that needs to change this match.
"There is no pressure on us either in the sense that Harwood are expected to win and no one is expecting us to win. All the pressure is on them."