Newcastle District Cricket Association: Defending champions Hamilton-Wickham down troops for semi-final against Wests

By , 25/04/2020 19:36

OUT: Rhys Hanlon (right) will miss this weekend’s NDCA first-grade semi-final against minor premiers Wests at Harker Oval along with fellow Hamwicks regulars Dave Stevenson and Josh Trappel. The Pumas won last year’s title. Picture: Max Mason-HubersReigning champions Hamilton-Wickham will be without three of their top-four batsmen and pick up a first-grade debutant for this weekend’ssemi-final, but captain Sam Webber doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Webber remains confident aboutthe Pumas’ chances against Newcastle District Cricket Association minor premiers Wests at Harker Ovaldespite missingthe services of Rhys Hanlon, Dave Stevenson and Josh Trappel.

Hanlon has study commitments at Goluburn’s police academy where he’s traveled back from all summer, Stevenson will be part of his sister’s wedding while Webber takes over leadership duties from Trappel, who remains sidelined with a recent suspension.

Webber reckons the unavailabilitymerely opens the door for others, including rookie 20-year-old Neruiben Jayakuma, to step up and give Hamwicks a shot at claiming back-to-back titles.

“We’ve got a few changes and missing three of our top four is a big challenge,” Webber said.“But it just means everyone else has got to chip in and give ourselves something to bowl at. We’re all looking forward to it.”

Jayakuma and Liam Dwyer are among the replacements for Hamwicks, who go into the do-or-die clash with Ben Balcomb as the only top-five batsman left from last year’s grand final win.

Webber and twin-brotherMatt will be key in the middle order. Their services with the ball also vital along with opener Andrew Maher and spinner Abe Gibson.

The match-up between Hamwicks’ bowlers and Wests’ batsmen could prove pivotal according to Webber.

“Our bowling attack is one of the strongest in the comp and their batting line-up is oneof the strongest in the comp,” he said.“So it will be a good battle.”

Hamwicks secured the fourth and final play-offs spot in Saturday’s last roundby completing an outright against wooden spooners Cardiff-Boolaroo.

On the other hand Wests go into the encounter having collected five straight wins en route to the club’s first minor premiership since 1965-1966.

The sole change for the Tom Locker Cup championswill be the district-leading wicket-takerPeter Lojzczyk (neck) in for Stew Morgan.

“It was a hard call because we had 12 blokes and 11 spots so someone had to miss out,” Wests captain James King said.“Pete’s over his neck injury, has bowled well all year and bowled really well at training this week. He’s keen and raring to go.”

Over at No.1 Sportsground in theweekend’s other top-four game,Merewether captain Simon Moore returnsfrom a month out tolead the Lions’ finals charge.

BACK: Merewether captain Simon Moore returns from a rib injury this weekend. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Moore has been sidelined with a rib injury for the last twomatches of the regular season, but comes backto bolster Merewether’s batting ranks against Charlestown at No.1 Sportsground.

The skipper and fellow experienced campaigner Troy Goodwin, who missed Merewether’s most recent outing with a wedding, add depth to the line-up.

“It’s a bit more experience back,” Moore said.

Scott Montgomery and Jono Dunn the players to make way.

Third-placed Charlestown, skippered by Steve Mace 33 years after he debuted in a first-grade semi-final, will go into the game unchanged from last round.

Play gets underway at 10:30am on both Saturday and Sunday.

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