Coffs Harbour the last hurdle for Tamworth before Cup finals

TAMWORTH’S surging first eleven cricket sides heads east to go south on Sunday.

A round of 16 game against Coffs Harbour in Coffs Harbour on Sunday is Tamworth’s next mission as it strives to earn a berth in the eight-team December 28/29 SCG Country Cup Finals at Shellharbour.

The Tom Groth-captained Tamworth side takes a strong side to Coffs, one Groth believes has the skill and attitude to overcome the three- hour plus road trip and the home side.

“We’re leaving straight after we finish our club games,” Groth said Wednesday night after a team training session.

The Country keeper had driven down from Bingara after a day which had started at Terry Hie Hie in the morning.

He returned home after training and a relaxed dinner at the Longyard Hotel with some of his Tamworth teammates.

Groth, who also heads to Canberra in the New Year for his sixth Australian Country Cricket Championships campaign with the NSW Country Bush Blues, has little knowledge of Sunday’s foes.

“I don’t know anything about them except they are the third ranked team on the North Coast and had a couple of players in the North Coast Zone that played at Ballina,”  Groth said.

“Most coastal grounds seam around a lot though and they’ll be tough at home. They’ll be up for it.

“We’re leaving straight after club cricket so should get there about 11 and have a good sleep and bit of a relaxed walk around in the morning before the game.”

He is confident Tamworth has a side to win its way to the  South Coast.

“All our batsmen are in form,” he said.

“Most of the boys have been scoring runs over the past few weeks.”

Tamworth has monstered its competition so far this season, and is coming off a 372-run War Veterans Cup win over Gunnedah after plundering 5-493.

“We got a fair bit of confidence out of today (Gunnedah) and last week against Narrabri,” Groth said after Sunday’s win.

The week before they beat Narrabri by nine wickets.

The batting lineup is so strong, Groth – who bats at three and four for his South Tamworth club side – will bat at eight on Sunday.

The bowling lineup, which features two young quicks, Angus McNeil and Jack McVey, is anchored by the 36-year-old Col Smyth.

McNeil is quick while McVey has been one of the most improved cricketers in Tamworth.

“Jack’s earned his spot on the back of some outstanding bowling for his club and in the War Vets Cup,” Groth said.

“He’ll bowl first change with Angus and Col to open.

“Then we’ve got Stuie (young Englishman Stuart Plant) to bowl left-arm spin and plenty of other 

allrounders.

“It’s a well balanced attack.”

His only concern is they haven’t been tested yet.

“We haven’t done much death bowling,” he said.

“That could be a bit of a concern,” he said.

“But we’ve got blokes bowling who are bowling at the death for their club side.”

The only blip on Groth’s cricketing radar at the moment is the loss of NSW Country batsman Simon Moore from next month’s national championship in Canberra.

Groth found out Wednesday night the stalwart top- order bat, who was made a life member of Country Cricket NSW last month, has been forced to pull out of the championships.

A prolific rungetter, Moore’s replacement is unknown although Groth believes Tamworth teammates, Michael Rixon and Adam Jones, would make capable  replacements.

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