Merrivale batsman Simon Fleming whose side could theoretically finish second, at best, or at worst, miss out on the finals completely.FOUR teams are fighting for three top-four spots when an intriguing Warrnambool and District Cricket Association final round begins on Saturday.
Nanjing Night Net

Nestles is assured of finishing first but West Warrnambool, Merrivale, Woodford and Allansford are jostling for positions two to five.

The advantage of finishing top-two is a safeguarded passage to the grand final should the semi-finals be washed out.

In an exciting final round of two-day games, it is possible second-placed West could slip out of the top four and miss a semi-final berth, such is the tightness at the top.

It is unlikely but not impossible. It is just one of the many scenarios confronting finals aspirants.

Before clubs get the calculators and crystal balls out, Allansford captain Josh Parkinson said the mental gymnastics might be a waste of time.

“If we don’t win, the four won’t change,” he said.

Fair point. But the spots inside the four could.

He said Saturday’s loss to Woodford was disappointing but predicted it would inspire the defending premier.

“In a way, we just have to focus on beating Dennington. It puts the focus more on what we need to do and that is win.” If the Gators win and pick up big second innings bonus points, they could jump as high as second depending on other results.

Third-placed Merrivale hosts fourth-placed Woodford in what is effectively a semi-final a fortnight early. Just six points separate the pair with Allansford a further four points behind.

With 12 points for a first innings win plus bonus points for wickets and runs, a first-innings win would carry about 16 points.

If Woodford wins, it could jump as high as second if West suffered a shock big loss. The most likely scenario for the Eels is third if they triumph. Woodford coach John Houston said his Eels were in a similar position to Allansford.

“We have to win the next game, it’s pretty simple,” he said.

“If we win, we are in, if we don’t we are relying on scenarios.”

Houston said the Eels were confident of a win over Merrivale.

“If we win the last two games we deserve to be in. We are getting our full side back. ”

He said mathematically second through to fifth could swap positions but he doubted West would slip out of the four.

Merrivale, almost seven points behind West, could yet finish second if the Panthers lose and it wins but a loss for the Tigers and an Allansford win could see them miss out altogether.

Captain Michael Walsh said his side had a simple equation.

“We want to win and we don’t have to worry about any other game,” he said. But he said Woodford would be a tough opponent.

“They should have beaten us round one (before a washout).

“We probably got away with murder. Hopefully we are a better team now and better prepared.”

West Warrnambool, almost half a game clear in second, faces the hardest assignment of any club — a showdown with Nestles at Davidson Oval. A win and West finishes second. A loss and the Panthers will be sweating on results of other games. “You can’t ask for a better game leading into the finals,” Robb said.

“We are looking forward to it. They are obviously first for a reason — they have been playing the best cricket.

“If we win we stay second, if we lose we are relying on other results. It’s in our hands.”

Robb said the nature of the ladder showed the closeness of the competition between the four sides.

“We are out to win. If we win we don’t have to worry about what the others do.”

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