Shamrocks, Eagles evenly matched for flag

WESTBURY will be chasing its second NTCA first grade flag in three years when it takes on Mowbray in the season's decider at the NTCA No.1 Ground starting today.

The three-day grand final should be a closely contested affair with the Shamrocks finishing as minor premier and the Eagles third.

It will be a third consecutive grand final for the Shamrocks, while for Mowbray  it is the  first grand final appearance since a golden run of four-straight first grade flags from 2006 to 2009.

The honours are fairly even during the season with a draw in a Twenty20 game, the Eagles winning a two-dayer outright and the Shamrocks beating Mowbray comprehensively in a one-day game.

``We are reasonably confident and we feel we match up pretty well against Westbury in that they have a very strong bowling attack and quite strong batting and I think we are pretty much the same,'' Mowbray captain John Le Fevre said.

``So two evenly matched sides pitted against each other for the three days hopefully.''

Le Fevre said the Eagles would have to be on top of their game to win.

``If we can take our bowling form from last week into this week, it will make it hard for their batsmen and hopefully we can make some inroads there.

``With our batting we have to continue to build partnerships like we have been and hopefully turn a few 50-run partnerships into bigger ones.''

Le Fevre said winning the toss could have a big bearing on the game, with rain having affected  ground and pitch preparation.

``Ordinarily we like to bat first and put runs on the board, and that's probably what we'd be looking to do if we win the toss, and I'd say Westbury would probably be the same and try to put pressure on us,'' he said.

Jerome Illingworth is unavailable for Mowbray, with Luke Scott or Fletcher Seymour likely replacements.

Westbury coach Adrian Tudor was confident they had their best eleven taking to the field but was concerned that forecast wet weather could mean time would  be lost.

``We want to play as much cricket as we can for a three-day cricket match,'' he said.

``We got caught out last year with a bit of rain and unfortunately couldn't send the game to a second innings because we lost a bit of play.

``If we lose a day, it just becomes a normal roster match.'' 

Tudor said the club had moved on from last year's grand final loss to South Launceston but had addressed some deficiencies that  became apparent such as strengthening their batting middle order.

He said there was plenty of talent in the top and middle batting orders of both teams.

``We're reasonably confident we've got the side that can win it, and no doubt Mowbray would feel the same.

``They're a very good unit and it should be a fantastic contest.

``If there is anywhere I think we might have an edge, it would be in our batting depth, with someone like Richard Howe coming in at No.8 and Jonathan Chapman who could probably bat at four, five or six in other sides.''

He said the Shamrocks would have ``a real good hard look'' at the wicket before deciding what to do if they won the toss.

``I'd lean towards us wanting to bowl first and I'd probably lean towards Mowbray wanting to bat so they could set the total.

``The wicket might not have been rolled today and maybe not get any rolling tomorrow, so it might be a little under-prepared _  it might be a good toss to win.''

FINAL FACTS

WHO: Westbury v Mowbray.

WHAT: NTCA first grade grand final.

WHEN: Today until Sunday.

WHERE: NTCA No.1 Ground.

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