By Lance Jenkinson
Williamstown went into the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association finals oozing with confidence and it showed in a comprehensive seven-wicket dismantling of Taylors Lakes in the qualifying final at the Williamstown Cricket Ground at the weekend.
The Seagulls are the most experienced side in the finals, the team with the most accolades and the minor premiers, so there is little doubt the premiership window is wide open.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence at the moment,” Seagulls captain-coach Brent McMinn said.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players in our team who have played a lot of finals cricket.
“That does give us a little bit of an edge of other teams.” With a semi-final date with Altona back at the Morris Street ground coming this weekend, Williamstown only needs to refer back to the last time the two sides met to know that presents as a danger game.
The A’s got the chocolates on that occasion, even in the middle of a rough patch of form in their season.
“We only played them a few weeks ago and they did beat us,” McMinn said.
“That’s the only game we’ve lost after Christmas and they’ve only won one since Christmas.
“We’ve got all the confidence at the moment, they’re obviously down on confidence a bit, only winning one game out of about six after Christmas, but it’ll be a good game, it’s always a good game against Altona. “They always put on an honest contest and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“Hopefully we can get the job done and get ourselves in another grand final.”
Altona advance beyond the first round of the finals as the ‘lucky loser’.
The highest-ranked losing team after the first round of the finals survives.
With a nothing to lose mentality, the A’s could even be more dangerous.
Out-of-form Altona was soundly beaten by eight wickets at home against Werribee.
On the other hand, Williamstown produced a flawless performance in beating Taylors Lakes. The Seagulls, led by Fraser Hay (4-18), Matt Twentyman (3-15) and Daniel Popa (3-31), skittled the Lions for just 83.
Williamstown’s run chase was a blink-and- you’ll-miss effort. The Seagulls passed the target in the 25th over, led by 48 not out from Brenton Hodges.
A veteran of the side, wicketkeeper-batsman Hodges continues to set the standards.
“In my opinion, he’s the best keeper in the competition by a long way,” McMinn said.
“I haven’t seen too many keepers turn a game with their gloves and he can do that by standing up to the stumps and building an extra element of pressure.”
The other semi-final will be contested by Yarraville and Werribee at the Yarraville Oval.
Yarraville moved through to the semis with a comfortable 85-run win over Noble Park at home.
The Eagles posted 178 on the back of 40 to Josh Hahnel and 38 to Luke Reid.
Noble Park was bowled out for 93 with Mitchell Cross leading the way with 4-17 for the Eagles.