SOUTH LAUNCESTON has another bowling quandary on its hands as it returns from a bye to face Launceston.
Having already done without last year's frontline quicks of Jackson Young, Josh Freestone and Anders Bulow, the Knights are without Gavin Nutting (George Town), Brodie Jarrad (shoulder) and James Leake (school cricket).
The Knights will weigh up whether to call on another debutant or add an extra batsman to what is already one of the competition's most formidable top sixes.
Opener Sisitha Jayasinghe is back from a knee injury and could be on the cusp of making a big score.
"His role in the team in the one-dayers was to try and get us off to a fast start," captain Sean Harris said.
"He posted a few 30s and 40s but didn't go on with it, so we've challenged him to yes, get us off to a quick start, but to build an innings and hopefully turn it into a big one.
"He's been facing a lot of balls while he's been injured so hopefully he can do a job for us."
Harris said the Knights were eager to make amends for a six-wicket loss against the Lions in round three.
"Launny have got the results on the board, but our goal this week will just be trying to put them under pressure as much as possible," he said.
"They're sitting pretty, but certainly they'll earn their win against us if they're good enough to do so."
While the Knights shoot for a finals spot, the Lions are out to put their automatic grand final berth beyond doubt.
Launceston captain Alistair Taylor expects to name a similar, if not unchanged, XI for the NTCA ground derby.
"We always enjoy playing our neighbours," Taylor said.
"We're pretty keen to lock up top spot hopefully - we've got to play well for the next two weeks but there's a big carrot dangling there for us to try and grab.
"We've just got to play 180 to 200 overs of really good cricket over the next couple of Saturdays ... we know what's at stake for us."
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WESTBURY can land a major blow in the race for finals as it hosts Riverside in the third-last round of the season.
Narrowly behind the Blues but with a game in hand, the Shamrocks can stake a claim on second spot and its accompanying home semi-final should they down Riverside for the third time in seven weeks.
"It has a fair bit on it for both sides," Westbury captain Dan Murfet said.
"Potentially we could go a game in front into second, which is the highest spot up for grabs the way Launny is going.
"The home semi-final is a big thing - you don't want weather coming into play come finals time, so I think we realise how important it is to play our best cricket this weekend given what's on the line."
Chathura Athukorala is back in a batting capacity after pulling a hamstring in the T20 cup final, with Liam Ryan returning to seconds.
Coach Matthew Battle will partner Dom Barrett at the top of the order as Jesse Digney drops down to number six.
"Hopefully after we've got a good start he [Digney] can come in and do some of his punishing work with the bat," Murfet said.
"Jordan French will come up the order a couple of spots and that's something we've looked to try and do all this year, if people are performing, we'll we look for them to take that next step up and reward them for the work they've done."
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The Blues lost by 41 runs and 10 wickets when the two sides met in one-day fixtures either side of Christmas and are out to end a four-game losing streak.
Young Raiders all-rounder James Simpson is likely to return for his fifth first-grade game of the season.
"After our last couple of performances against them we're really looking at rebounding," Blues captain Tom Garwood said.
"We just have to bat well - our bowling is very good at the moment, we just need a couple of guys to really step up with the bat.
"Patty Mackrell had a couple of 30-odds last week and we need a couple of the senior guys to step up in Pete [New] and Rama [Ramesh Sundra] as well."
Team P W D L Pts
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