Bluebirds target swift reply
SWIFTS remain on target as they seek to avenge last year's disappointment in the Ipswich and West Moreton Division One competition.
In Division One (reserve grade) the Bluebirds lead the field heading into the new year, with Northsiders close behind.
Laidley and Brothers are less than a first innings win further behind while Eastern Taipans and the Mt Crosby-Marburg Thunder remain in the hunt for a finals spot.
Only Central Districts are out of the running.
The need to go one better than last year's grand final loss to Eastern Taipans is part of the reason some of the Swifts team have been reluctant to put their hand up to move up to the top grade this summer.
"I think we did everything right," Swifts captain Luke Smith said of last season's finals campaign.
"We beat Fassifern in the semi but were a bit unlucky in the final.
"We lost the toss on a wet pitch and fell at the last hurdle but we've got a lot more depth this year."
The Bluebirds have lost just the one game this season, to Brothers.
"We had them 7-50 but we got rolled for 60," Smith said.
Brothers however, are just one of several teams Smith believes his team could face in the semi-final and hopefully final.
"It is a fairly even comp this year," he said.
"I reckon Taipans are still not bad either.
"(The strength of the opposition) seems to vary week to week with players dropping back (from Premier League)."
There is no doubting that the Bluebirds are the team to beat, particularly given Smith's recruitment plans.
Last year's top-grade premiership winning all-rounder with Northsiders, Nathan Hooper, has played once for the Bluebirds this summer and will play in the opening game of the new year; against Centrals at Limestone Park on Saturday.
If Smith gets his way it won't be the last time Hooper appears this season.
"I've been onto him all year," Smith said.
"He said he was not keen to play all that much, just when he was helping out."
Smith is also trying to entice former Brothers and Colleges Crossing fast bowler Anthony Fowler out of retirement, if he can get a release from Brothers.
But even if they play no further part, Smith is happy with the team he's got.
"We're going really well," he said.
"Last year we were a bit scratchy with some people not committed 100%.
"This year we've got Chris (Mantell) and Timmy (Woodford) batting and bowling really well.
"And Ryan Brown, who has come across from Brothers, is doing well. So it's going good."
Woodford has been a standout with the bat, hitting three 50s and averaging 42 to be the competition's second leading run-scorer, behind the Thunder's Matthew Muller. He also has claimed nine wickets at an average of 20.
Mantell is sixth on the bowling list, with 14 wickets at an average of 9.64.
Division 1 ladder
- Swifts 61.82
- Northsiders 60.11
- Laidley 55.70
- Brothers 55.04
- Eastern Taipans 47.00
- Thunder 44.41
- Centrals 17.66