Finals dish a tasty treat
By ADAM HICKS
LIKE a prawn chow mein in the microwave, the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League is heating up.
The last weekend of regular play sees the competition's top four teams locked in finely balanced matches and with just five points separating them the minor premiership remains wide open.
Current leaders Tintenbar-East Ballina face a tough battle at Fripp Oval against cross-town rivals, the inform Ballina Bears.
The Bears resume at 1-71 chasing 187 to topple the previously undefeated 'Bar outfit.
A Bears' win would see either Southern Districts or Cudgen claim the minor premiership and the all-important finals home ground advantage.
But Tintenbar captain Brett Crawford said his team remained confident they could capture nine wickets for less than 116 runs.
"If we win, we win the minor premiership. We are quietly confident," Crawford said.
"We've just got to get out there and get a couple of early wickets and put pressure on their middle order. They have shown this year that their middle order can be vulnerable. The bottom line is we've got the runs and they've still got to get them."
But with Crawford expecting Souths to beat Cudgen, he is fully aware that a loss could see them playing away in the first week of the finals.
"It would be disappointing to lose knowing that the minor premiership was ours for the taking," he said.
"But regardless of what happens we have to get on with it. Whoever we play we play. You should be able to beat anyone if you want to win it."
South's captain Richard Nind said their match with Cudgen at Reg Dalton Field would go down to the wire.
Souths resume at 6-88, with Len Blok on 15 and Rex Parrish on 20, needing to reach 125 for victory.
"We were really happy to get them out for 125 then disappointed with our start," he said.
"There's nothing wrong with the wicket. It's just been pretty good bowling and poor shots from both sides.
"Cudgen well and truly deserve their place in the four. They go for their shots, they bat all the way down and their bowling attack is up there with any of the better bowling attacks in the comp.
"We could be playing for the minor premiership.
"If the weather stays good and the wicket is good I'll back Ballina to get the runs.
"If Len and Rex can bat for five overs we can get the runs. We've got to make another 38 runs and if Ballina get up that'll get us the minor premiership.
"But it could go either way."
The Casino Cavaliers, who currently sit in equal third, will find themselves moving up the order if they can chase down 223 against Marist Brothers at Oakes Oval.
Buoyed by the return of Sam Irvine most are backing the Cavaliers to get the runs against a Brothers outfit that haven't won a match this season.
"The Casino match will be interesting," Crawford said.
"I won't make a call on the match, but if Casino are to be a chance in the finals they have to chase it down.
"If you look at Brothers' weakness it is their bowling, but I'm sure they'll be keen to end the season on a high note."
In other matches:
Lismore Workers will play Lennox Head at Nesbitt Park in a one-day match after rain prevented play last week; Byron-Brunswick will host Pottsville at Thompson Oval in a one-day match; South Tweed Colts resume at 3-98 chasing Alstonville's 135 at Hill Park Oval; Terranora Lakes resume at 3-56 needing 162 against Murwillumbah at Bilambil Turf.