Finals come early in Aurora battles

FINALS will come a week early in the Aussie 15s, with clashes at either end of the table to have a decisive say in the competition's grand final week fixture.

Tonight's first game between the TRC Titans (who are aligned with South Launceston) and the Metz Jets (George Town), sees fourth place or higher up for grabs, while the Cock 'n' Bull  Crusaders (Westbury) and Alchemy All Stars (Riverside) will be competing for a guaranteed grand final spot.

Crusaders captain Dane Anderson said his team had learnt a lot from its narrow first-round win and watching last week's second round.

``There's quite a few things we've picked up on, but the main thing is the conditions with the untried ground (Aurora Stadium),'' he said.

``The wicket is flat, and quite low, and we'll have some plans for that this time.

``We went a bit too hard, too early last time and got bowled out, so we'll rein that back in and look to get one or two blokes to retire and not go as hard early.''

Anderson said they would be looking to shut down the All Stars' middle order, which helped propel them to 145 last week.

Leigh Lambert and Dion Blair are out of the side this week, replaced by Jono Chapman and Nathan Matthews.

Alchemy All Stars captain Alex Saunders said his team was determined to secure a finals spot, with bowling improvements vital after conceding 135 last week.

``The Slashers got off to a great start against us, and if we can tighten that up, we should be better again,'' Saunders said.

``We'll look at setting different field and using different bowlers at the start, depending on who bats first for the Cock 'n' Bull guys.''

Patrick Mackrill and  Matty Cocker are unavailable, with Greg Sharman and Ramesh Sundra to get a run.

The Metz Jets' batting is the area they will be looking to improve on after losing to the Sporties Legends last week, says skipper Scott Driessen.

``We didn't go hard enough early and hitting straight to those double-run areas is essential,'' Driessen said of a side that managed 9-111 from its 15 overs.

``We thought our bowling was good and we were happy how we executed them.

``Our attitude is still positive and we realise it will be a tough task (to qualify for the finals), but we'll go out there, play the game and see what happens as there is no expectation on us.''

Rohan Pooley will miss, with Will Thompson coming in.

Batting is also on the mind of Titans captain Michael Jones, who said rotating the strike would be a focus.

``We'll be going for the ones and the twos, as you just can't be trying to hit boundaries all the time,'' Jones said.

``In our game, no one retired, and that was due to us trying to hit fours and sixes and we forgot with ones and twos you can still get 10 an over.

``Against the Cock 'n' Bull, we were excellent with the ball and in the field, taking some great catches, but we'll be looking to bowl full and straight and hope they try to clear the front leg and miss it.

``We're aiming to win the game and try to make the finals, we'll look at the net run-rate and play accordingly.''

Injuries and state under-19 duties will mean there will be ``four or five'' changes for the Titans.

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Aussie 15s tournament, week 3.

WHERE: Aurora Stadium, Launceston.

WHEN: Today, 6pm: TRC Titans v Metz Jets, 8.10pm: Cock 'n' Bull Crusaders v Alchemy All Stars.

HOW MUCH: Spectator entry is free.

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