SEMI-FINALS have come early for Central Districts and Eastern Taipans.
The teams meet Saturday at Taipans' Bruce Raleigh Oval for day one of the final round of the Ipswich Logan Premier League two-day competition.
The winner will secure fourth spot on the ladder and the final semi-final spot.
The teams have endured a different lead into the vital clash.
Taipans are coming off a two-day game against second-placed Northsiders and a one-day final loss to Laidley.
Centrals have not played in five weeks due to a bye and an Alberton forfeit.
But Centrals skipper Ben O'Connell doesn't think his team will be at too great a disadvantage.
Batsmen Wayne Jones and Luke Barrett and strike bowler Rhys O'Sullivan both played in First Division (Reserve grade) last round to get some match practice.
Jones and Barrett both scored centuries, while O'Sullivan found his groove with two wickets in 15 valuable overs.
"Guys have been regularly to training and we're definitely on the job at hand," O'Connell said.
"Most teams in Ipswich have had to deal with a break at some stage."
Centrals can advance to the semis with a draw as they currently sit higher on the ladder than their opponents.
"We've come to win the game and not let them get a sniff," O'Connell said.
"If that means we bat for a day and a half, so be it."
If that is the case and Centrals progress, O'Connell believes it will stand his team in good stead for a likely semi-final against Laidley.
"With a bit better application and thought processes, we know what we need to get to," he said.
"If we play Laidley at Laidley, we'll have to bat for a long period of time.
"So that's at the forefront of our mind."
Taipans, as their declaration at 3-24 against Northsiders last round showed, will be desperate for the win.
"It's make or break for them," O'Connell said.
"Taipans' finals hopes rest on this game.
"But it's the same for us as well.
"We've performed below where we wanted to, from what we outlined at the start of the season."
O'Connell has missed his team's one and two-day games against the Taipans this season so will rely on teammates for insights into their strengths and weaknesses.
"They've got a couple of handy bowlers and a few attacking batters," he said.
"So for us it's about containing runs and taking wickets.
"If one of our bowlers gets on a roll with the ball, they're hard to stop."
Making it harder for Centrals is the absence of classy trio Sunny Manghera, Tyrone De Silva and Indy Singh, who have left the club.
"Other guys need to step up," O'Connell said.
The Ipswich & West Moreton Cricket Association presentation dinner will be held at Brothers Leagues Club on Friday, April 12, at 7pm.
Contact Bronis Carkeet on 32824251 for bookings, or email: email@example.com
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