Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

It's make or break for Numurkah and Old Students

Finals hopes will go on the line tomorrow when Numurkah and Old Students face off in Cricket Shepparton's Haisman Shield.

DAMEN FRANCIS January 24, 2014 4:10am

In-form Numurkah paceman Priyankara Silva will have to work harder for his wickets when Old Students visit Numurkah Showgrounds this weekend.

When the Haisman Shield finals race is run and won, Numurkah and Old Students may come to reflect on round 10 as the defining moment in their season.

Level on points in seventh and eighth place on the ladder, the pair goes head-to-head at Numurkah Showgrounds in a two-day match, starting tomorrow.

With Northerners set to advance to 39 points due to the bye and fourth and fifth-placed Kyabram and Katandra locking horns at Katandra Recreation Reserve the gap between sixth and seventh will widen.

Numurkah skipper Mark Brown said he had little trouble motivating his players this week.

‘‘It’s probably make or break for us now,’’ Brown said.

‘‘I don’t think I have to tell the boys anything, they’re fully aware of our situation and if they can’t get themselves up for a game like this they never will.’’

The Blues boast a patient and focused batting line-up starved of two-day cricket this season.

Their opening two-day match was shortened to a one-dayer, they let the second slip against Mooroopna and then had a bye.

Numurkah’s post-Christmas form has been encouraging, with Jahlan Lau and Liam Gledhill among the runs.

Priyankara Silva was in good nick with the ball against Shepparton and Youth Club United last week, but is unlikely to find as much support at Numurkah Showgrounds, where line is not the primary focus.

‘‘Bowl too full or too short and you’re cannon fodder, you’ve got to get your length right,’’ Brown said.

‘‘As a batsman you’ve got to cash in. At Numurkah if you’re not scoring 300 runs you’re not in the game.’’

The Students have been one of the competition’s enigmas this season.

A breakthrough win against Northerners in their most recent two-dayer was followed by defeat to Katandra, prior to last week’s impressive win against Karramomus.

Despite success batting second, Old Students coach James Stokes said batting first was still the preference and underestimating the Blues was not an option, as his side searches for consistency.

‘‘We got it right against Northerners, wrong against Katandra and right against Karra,’’ Stokes said.

‘‘Our run chase last week was similar to the one against Northerners in that we went out with intent. I was especially happy with ‘Bez’ (Brent Mathers) and ‘Brez’ (Nick Breslin) for that.

‘‘Numurkah’s got the potential to post 250-300 in a two-game if we’re not careful.

‘‘If we’re to be successful we need to able to post defendable scores.’’

Gino Saracino and Rocky Gagliardi are available and will come under consideration, while Riley Michel is being monitored for a shoulder injury.

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