It’s do or die for the Deni Rhinos, coming face to face with reigning premier Nathalia in a Murray Valley Cricket Association two-day semi final at Cobram this weekend.
The Rhinos will play on Saturday and Sunday with a grand final spot on the line.
The Purples have been a dominant force in the MVCA, claiming the premiership the past three seasons.
Despite this, Rhinos coach John Arthur is confident his side can topple Nathalia in the elimination match.
‘‘I genuinely believe that we can win the flag,’’ he said.
‘‘I think we’ve surprised a few sides this year after not making finals last season, with some big results going our way.
‘‘We’re very evenly matched with Nathalia but I’m very confident of winning.
‘‘Ash Germano is in good form and we know what we can expect from Brad Todd, Andrew Hogan and Zeniffe Fowler each week.
‘‘I can just see that Zeniffe is very confident and will relish playing on a bat friendly wicket in Cobram. I’d love to see him in the middle for 30 to 40 overs.
‘‘Things will be very interesting early. We know Luke Carter will bowl plenty of overs so we’ll need to try and keep rotating the strike to keep him a bit unsettled.
‘‘Ash Quinn is another who always bowls really well against us with his tremendous pace.
‘‘It should be a good batting track so we need to make sure we put away loose bowling and have our running between the wickets pick up again.’’
The last time these sides met was just three weeks ago, where a whopping 26 wickets fell between the two sides on day two of their clash.
It was Nathalia that stood tall with an outright win, in what was a thrilling contest between the sides.
‘‘I’d never seen one day of cricket where I thought we’d win the first innings, lose and then look as though we could win outright later that same day,’’ Arthur said.
‘‘While we couldn’t get over the line, we gained a lot of confidence from that match with how close it was.
‘‘One of the biggest factors from that game was that Nathalia’s running between the wickets was much better than ours.
‘‘We’ve been pretty good throughout the year with picking up quick singles so I’m confident we will be able to improve that side of our game again.
‘‘We’ve had a great season so far and we don’t want it to end now.
‘‘Everyone has a little more self belief and confidence, so I’m expecting it to be an absolutely cracking contest.’’
Both days of the match between the Rhinos and Nathalia will start at midday, being held at Cobram Showgrounds.
The winner will face either Barooga or Cobram in the grand final next weekend, with the loser being eliminated from finals.