PENOLA will hope to begin its push for a finals berth with a strong performance against West Gambier when the Mount Gambier and District Cricket Association Barber Shield competition returns to McCorquindale Park this Saturday.
The one-day clash looms as a big game for the home side, after the opening half of the season did not fall its way.
Rain and cancelled fixtures saw the Eagles slip to fifth on the ladder, but they remain within striking distance of the top-four with two wins on the board.
However, Penola entered the Christmas break on a sour note after a disappointing performance against East Gambier.
West also tasted defeat in its last fixture and will search for a win to hold third place on the ladder.
A close encounter can be anticipated after a tense low-scoring affair played out the last time the Eagles and Roos faced off in round four.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as neither side’s batting line ups could cope with the respective bowling attacks.
In the end, the tight match was decided by the endurance and skill of Penola bowlers Michael Waters and George Kidman.
The pair both put in a lion-hearted effort to claim seven wickets between them and defended the Eagles’ small total of 137.
They will hope to inflict similar pain on West with the white ball in hand.
However, the Roos hold plenty of firepower.
None more so than Richard Crute, who smashed eight sixes during a 96-ball 141 runs in his previous limited-overs outing.
The West captain’s destructive knock against Mil Lel was his second match-winning innings of the season.
The likes of Josh Cornolo, Sam Willis and Connor Prior have shown promising signs and will look to offer Crute more support.
Penola’s batsmen will also have to watch out for Crute.
The tall pace bowler picked up a five-wicket haul last match, but he will not be the biggest danger.
Crute’s partner in crime Willis is in irresistible form and claimed 12 wickets in his last two games.
Names such as Kidman, Lewis March and Curt Evans will hope to counter this threat and post a solid total.
A low-scoring match could be in store and both batting line ups will be under pressure after they were bowled out for double-figure scores last round.
The Eagles and Roos will be determined to make a statement and begin the new year on a high.