Homers, Rup-Minyip battle for Horsham Cricket Association flag

WILL reigning Horsham Cricket Association A Grade premier Homers take out back-to-back flags, or can Rup-Minyip turn the tables after last season's grand final defeat?

That is the question to be answered when the competition's top two teams - the Pigeons and the Blue Panthers -  meet in this year's decider at Horsham City Oval Saturday and Sunday.

Both sides will be at full strength, with Pigeons' keeper-batsman Tim Hopper returning in place of Tim Friend, and the Blue Panthers naming an unchanged side from last week's semi-final win.

Homers captain Lachie Jones said he was confident, but expecting a hard-fought contest.

"It's great to be there again and we're looking forward to the challenge," he said.

"You work all year to get into this position and now it's about finishing it off. It's all about what you do when you get to the big dance.

"We're two even sides with bat and ball and it could come down to who has a bit of luck."

Pigeons opener Sandy Hodge will enter the match full of confidence after a semi-final century -  his second ton this season - as will opening bowler Craig Britten, who is fresh from a five-wicket haul.

The Pigeons have called on a number of different contributors throughout the year, which Jones believes typifies the quality of his side. "We like to think we don't rely on any one player," he said.

"If one bloke doesn't fire, you look to the next -  everyone's very capable of making runs and we've got a few match-winners with the ball."

Spin bowling all-rounders Chris and Simon Hopper have enjoyed successful seasons, as has opening bowler Siphe Mzaidume, who has claimed 41 wickets, and Jones, who has averaged more than 50 with the bat.

The Blue Panthers' depth is equally impressive, and their skipper Clint Midgley believes they are a chance to upset the premiership favourites after a strong semi-final performance.

"I'd say they'll go in as favourites, but we're pretty excited to have an opportunity," he said. "We had a pretty good game on the weekend where everyone played their role."

Top-order batsman Adam Carter scored an unbeaten 74, taking his season tally to 525 runs, while young keeper-batsman Dan Clark scored his second consecutive half-century, and both will be important in this match.

Midgley said Clark would play a pivotal role at the top of the order.

"It was very encouraging, Dan's got better as the season has progressed," he said.

"We hope we can bat for long periods and bat around him."

One thing the Blue Panthers have in spades is big game experience. They have won three of the past five A Grade grand finals, and if all-rounders Paul Morgan, Craig Morgan and Midgley continue to fire with both bat and ball, the reigning premier will have a fight on its hands.

Play starts on both days at 11am.

Teams

Homers: Lachie Jones, captain, Adam Atwood, Craig Britten, Sandy Hodge, Ash Hopper, Chris Hopper, Simon Hopper, Tim Hopper, David Johns, Siphe Mzaidume, Jason Templeton.

Rup-Minyip: Clint Midgley, captain, Jamie Byrne, Adam Carter, Dan Clark, Brent Hudson, Brayden Ison, Ryan Metelmann, Craig Morgan, Glenn Morgan, Paul Morgan, Andrew Newall.

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