Key match-ups for thrilling cricket semi-final duel
FINALS season has arrived in Ipswich regional cricket.
First and second grade semi-finals start on Saturday, along with third and fourth grade grand finals.
Sunday is the junior finals.
In First Grade, Centrals host Eastern Taipans after edging out Brothers last weekend.
This will be Centrals' fifth semi in seven seasons although they have only one lost one - against Swifts last year.
They will rely on their batsmen to get the job done.
Top three Jason O'Sullivan, Luke Barrett and Ben O'Connell will need to get through the new ball and cash in later on the day.
Centrals' bowling has been their strength lately. Nick Vellacott has been in sensational form, left hand paceman Blake Raper continues his rise and Rhys O'Sullivan doesn't give much away with his swingers.
Centrals' spinners are up with Laidley as the competition bests.
Taipans will have their hands full trying to amass a large target if Centrals bring their A game.
The only time the Taipans reached this point, they got a free pass to the grand final due to a washed out weekend and went on to win the premiership in 2010/11.
Taipans will need to create a massive total and give themselves enough time to bowl Centrals out.
Brodie Kenyon has been in good form with bat all season. Brodie Dwyer and Dan Packer have reaped many profitable starts.
Taipans' bowling has relied on Vaughan Oldham and more recently Ben Timms.
Taipans' back-up pacemen will be the key to whether they progress to next week.
Timms, Clarkson and Jason Packer will have to build and maintain pressure for Oldham to exploit.
IN Second Grade, Fassifern are up against it in their semi-final at Raleigh Oval.
Taipans are on a 10 match unbeaten streak, including defeating Fassifern and minor premier Laidley twice in that time.
Their batting relies on Dean Micalleffv (363 runs) and Steve Teepa (270).
Bowling is more evenly spread with four bowlers over 17 wickets for the season. It is hard to see Taipans being stopped here especially after dealing with Laidley so clinically last week.
However, the last team to beat them was the Bushrangers. The defending champions will not want to give their title up easily, coming off a big victory themselves.
Brett Brassington (32 wickets) and Matt Morrison (31 wickets) have been in good bowling form and top the wicket-takers' list in Second Grade.
Webb Shield rep Charlie Moncada (473 runs at 67.6) is always a difficult wicket to get.
In Third and Fourth grades, it is a grand final series.
The winner is decided over the best of three one day matches.
In Third Grade, minor premier Laidley take on Fassifern at Baxter Oval.
The match features the two leading wicket takers (Josh Sandnes of Laidley with 25 wickets at 8.8 and Jason Grimsey of Fassifern with 24 at 6.8) and run getters (Graham Andrews of Fassifern with 374 runs and Warren Groat with 271).
In Fourth Grade, Brothers and Thunder finished equal on points.
Both teams defeated each other once each throughout the season.
Experienced duo Kel Janke and Tony Gill are their teams' best batters so their wicket will hold the key to their teams' chances.
Sunday's junior finals will determine the premiers.
Centrals Maroon are in charge after day one against Laidley in the under-16 clash at Baxter Oval.
Batting first they reached 4/282 off their 60 overs with centuries to Braydon Osbourne and Ben Maynard.
In under 14, Pool A minor premier Northsiders/Fassifern are in an impregnable position on Marsden No.1.
They racked up 2/173 in their 30 overs.
Centrals Maroon made just 81.
In Pool B on Marsden No.3, Thunder Bolts scored 4/141, with captain Oliver Schmidt (50 retired) leading the way.
Brothers could only amass 7/70.
In the under-12 grand finals, Pool A has undefeated Centrals White taking on Thunder Storm on Ivor Marsden 2. Pool B sees Eastern Taipans take on Brothers at Marsden No.4.