A dramatic last day of the regular Cricket North season could shape the premiership favourites on Saturday.
Just three sides can make the finals. But two can earn a direct path to the grand final.
South Launceston remain in the box seat for the certain spot in the decider, little more than three points ahead of Westbury and Launceston, who watch from the sidelines during this final round.
Both the Knights and the Shamrocks have secured first-innings points, but both combatants for the minor premiership and week off next week are in a battle to claim vital outright points in their respective matches.
Westbury look a chance to push on and set up a big first-innings lead against a fragile Riverside with the bat.
“We’re under no illusions that there’s still a lot of work to do, if that comes to being,” captain Richard Howe said.
“We are obviously going to have a red-hot dip and if it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
The Shamrocks will feel confident of rolling their rivals in the last hour on Saturday after Riverside’s lower order crumbled to lose 7-30 seven days earlier.
Howe said time to freshen up from a long season would be ideal preparation towards another premiership tilt.
“South are in a fairly good position as well, but the week off is always an advantage, so we’ll definitely push for that and see how we’re looking,” Howe said. “It’s definitely on the radar [an outright win].”
But Riverside skipper Tom Garwood is firm that his side won’t surrender without a fight to curb a thrilling finish.
“I am not sure what they’re going to do,” Garwood said.
“So we’ll head into Saturday knowing we’ll bowl for a fair bit of the morning I would have thought.
“We’ll be looking at taking wickets and still playing our sort of cricket – bowling our lines and lengths. But we’ll be looking to bat the day out.”
South Launceston captain Alec Smith has intimated to keeping one eye on the other scorecard during the game.
The twists and turns at Westbury could determine how the Knights attack.
“It’s on the back of our mind to be honest,” Smith said. “We’ll keep an eye on their game and see what’s happening. “But we don’t want to stray too much and worry what teams are doing.”
Smith said his side had planned to discuss tactics on Thursday night to preserve their stumps’ advantage.
But the top-of-the-table Knights sit in a precarious position against Mowbray, leading by 29 runs but with only two wickets in hand.
Smith concedes the Eagles are still a chance to claim an outright victory.
“So it’s a little bit up in the air,” Smith said, “but we usually just go out and play attacking cricket anyway.”
- Mowbray captain John Le Fevre did not return calls.