Finals contenders keep pack at bay
WEEKEND wins by Brothers and Central Districts have kept them ahead of the chasing pack for a finals berth in March.
Brothers were perhaps fortunate to be playing bottom-placed Alberton this week, given their form against the Blue Dogs the previous weekend, losing after being bowled out for 50.
Against Alberton they reached a far from imposing 134 batting first.
"It was a bit disappointing," Brothers wicket-keeper Luke Dixon said.
"It was the second week in a row we haven't batted well.
"We keep losing early wickets which makes it hard, especially in one-day games when you want to keep as many wickets as you can."
Brent Kinnane's 40 at least enabled Brothers to post a defendable total.
Alberton looked as though they would go close to recording their first win of the season when they reached 6-116, but their last three wickets fell for 10 runs, leaving them winless in their debut season in the Ipswich competition.
Brothers had pulled Jared Lindley out of the attack to cover for the early departure of Craig Cumming, who took two top-order wickets.
The move paid off with Lindley picking up three late wickets to ensure the Brethren held on by 18 runs. "I knew if we got wickets, we could put pressure on their lower-order batsmen," Dixon said.
"Bowling is our strength rather than batting at the moment."
Brothers' poor form is a concern but the flip-side is they have done enough to remain second on the Premier League ladder.
Dixon knows improvement will come with the return of injured fast bowler Mark Sharrad and the arrival of Indian import Mukesh Sharma in the new year.
"To stay second going into Christmas, if we beat Eastern Taipans, will set us up," he said.
"We definitely want to go in (to the break) with a few wins."
Central Districts remain hot on Brothers' heels in third spot after a comfortable win over Swifts at Ivor Marsden 1.
Centrals restricted Swifts to 169 with spinners Ben O'Connell (3-43) and Luke Barrett (2-34) finding success.
In reply, Centrals reached the target with four wickets down.
Opener Suny Manghera continued his rich form with 59 while Rowan Lutter finished 37 not out.