Tamworth will be hoping Santa delivers an early Christmas present at Scone on Sunday – a trip to Grafton for the McDonalds Country Cup finals.
The Tom Groth-skippered side is one of eight remaining in contention for the prestigious silverware and will take on Terrigal, with the winner to advance to the semi-finals on December 29.
Tamworth have had wins over Maitland and Waratah-Mayfield so far, and while not knowing a lot about their opposition are wary.
“They beat Merewether,” selector Chris Paterson said, referring to the perennial finalists and foe of Tamworth.
“For them to win they’re obviously pretty handy.”
Groth returns to lead the side after missing the win over Waratah-Mayfield, but won’t have a full strength side at his disposal with Simon Norvill, Brendan Rixon, Brendon Reynolds and Angus McNeill all out.
“It’s still a good side,” Paterson said.
“But we are probably lacking a bit of experience at that level.”
The attack too will arguably be lacking some sting with no Reynolds or McNeill. McNeill is, with Wests’ Tom Scoble, arguably the form quick bowler in the Tamworth competition, with Reynolds not far behind.
“With those two out a fair bit rests on Tom (O’Neill) and Davo (Lachie Davidson),” he said.
Both have been bowling well with O’Neill the standout bowler against Waratah-Mayfield claiming 4-33. Tait Jordan is also coming off five wickets in their MA Connolly Cup win over Glen Innes last week, and in Paterson’s words “bowled exceptional”.
“And Jack Richards gets an opportunity. He’s been getting wickets in first grade,” Paterson said.
“Then we’ve got the allrounders in Troy Osborne and Josh Dawson.”
Norvill and Rixon (Brendan) will leave big holes to fill in the batting but Paterson has faith the depth is there to cover, with Adam Lole coming back in and adding a bit of stability and Jye Paterson and Tom Fitzgerald finishing off well in the War Veterans Cup semi-final two weeks ago.
Davidson and O’Neill have also both shown themselves more than handy with the bat in recent weeks with half-centuries.
There is also a fair bit of versatility there with the how Groth stacks the batting order.