Laidley’s Alex Welsh is the dangerman Northsiders have to contain to claim the minor premiership.
Laidley’s Alex Welsh is the dangerman Northsiders have to contain to claim the minor premiership. David Nielsen

Northsiders to defend premiership

THERE has never been a better time this season for Northsiders to stamp their claims as defending champions.

The Ipswich West Moreton Division One leaders face second-placed Laidley in the last round before finals at Bob Jensen Oval from today.

A win would likely see Northsiders secure direct entry into the grand final, though Strollers/Raiders could yet earn that privilege if they thrash Brothers at Bruce Raleigh Oval.

It would also give them a decided psychological advantage over Laidley.

“Hopefully we can get the minor premiership and be the first team through to the grand final,” Northsiders strike bowler Kev Cumming said.

“This game is probably our grand final at the moment because we can put them on the back foot.”

While Northsiders are one win from the minor premiership, Cumming feels there is plenty of improvement left in them.

Cumming is wary of Laidley’s in-form spin bowling all-rounder Alex Welsh.

Welsh is the competition’s third-highest run scorer and second-highest wicket taker with 22, but it is still a long way behind Cumming’s 39.

Yet Cumming believes he can bowl better than he has been.

“I’m happy with (my form),” he said.

“There’s been a few loose balls here and there.”

The 27-year-old puts his success down to the tuition of Northsiders coaches David Biddle and Michael Verrenkamp and bowling a fuller line.

“I’m just pitching it up, bowling a good line and length,” he said.

It means his near lethal short ball is more of a surprise weapon than previously.

But he is not buying into the theory that Northsiders will be lost if he has a bad day.

“I believe we have the best bowling attack in the comp,” he said.

“Rob Hillier is bowling unbelievably. Then we’ve got Aaron Nugter and Marcus Hillier is lethal at tying up an end.”

A win for Laidley will likely earn the undefeated Blue Dogs the minor premiership, which they may well have had wrapped up already if not for rain denying them easy points from two washouts against Swifts.

“It’s very important (to finish top) but if we have to play in a semi-final, we’ll always be confident,” Welsh said.

“We feel we deserve to finish top.

“We’re undefeated but find ourselves second. It is pretty frustrating actually.”

However, that frustration will not affect their approach against Northsiders.

“We just turn up and play every weekend the same,” Welsh said.

“We enjoy ourselves and play positive cricket.”

While Cumming is wary of Welsh, the feeling is mutual.

“The opening bowlers for Northsiders are very strong,” he said.

“They are definitely one of the strongest teams in the competition. When we played them at Laidley, they got a few of us down very early.”

Welsh may have been his team’s star performer this season but he maintains Laidley’s undefeated run has been more to do with team effort.

“There hasn’t really been a standout performer,” he said.

“We’ve won games by people all chipping in.”

Today’s games

Northsiders v Laidley at Bob Jensen Oval

Strollers/Raiders v Brothers at Bruce Raleigh Oval

Swifts v Centrals at Baxter Oval

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