Horsham under-16s prepare for semi-finals

SEMI-FINALS have arrived, with four under-16 sides remaining in contention for a grand final berth at Horsham City Oval on March 9.

Minor premiers Rup-Murtoa will play fourth-placed Natimuk for the second week running, at Sunnyside, with second-placed Horsham Saints taking on third-placed West Wimmera at Dimboola oval.

Both matches will be played on Sunday, starting at 10am.

Rup-Murtoa will be full of confidence heading into its first finals clash, with two wins from two matches against Natimuk this season.

The latest win came on Saturday, with batsmen Joe Gardy, Bailey Batchelor and Corey Morgan all among the runs again.

Those three players plus Corey Chenoweth and Lachlan Mills have all passed 100 runs for the season.

Rup-Murtoa coach Paul Morgan said the side’s top order would be key to its chances.

“We rely on our top four or five to make most of the runs,” he said.

“Joe Gardy’s now made three fifties in a row – he’s in really good form.”

Natimuk’s Kyle O’Connor has also been in good form, recording his second junior half-century for the season on Saturday. Nine of his team-mates have made scores of 20 or more throughout the season.

Horsham Saints and West Wimmera will both go into their semi-final with winning form after victories at the weekend.

Both sides have won one game against each other this season, and in their last meeting the result came down to the final over in a nail-biting finish.

Key to the Saints hopes will be Sam Leith, Matt Burns and Tom Wentworth all spending time at the crease. All three have scored more than 150 runs for the season.

Leith has also been in good form with the ball, as has opening bowler Jed Lehmann.

West Wimmera will be hoping its top-order quartet of Jake McQueen, Todd Alexander, Lucas Dahlenburg and Louis Preston can continue to fire with the bat.

West Wimmera coach Phil Preston anticipates another evenly-contested match between the two teams.

“It was a terrific game the week before against the Saints,” he said.

“It was like a final. We hope we can lift again for the finals this week.”

In the final round of matches on Saturday, Saints accounted for Blackheath-Dimboola at Dimboola, West Wimmera defeated Jung Tigers at home, and Rup-Murtoa had a narrow win over Natimuk at Natimuk.

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