HATHERLEIGH can take a massive step closer to promotion into the Premier Division if they beat Cornwood this Saturday.
The unbeaten leaders made it ten out of 10 at the top of the A Division when they hammered Ivybridge by nine wickets.
Hatherleigh host fourth-placed Cornwood this Saturday a hefty 31 points clear of second-placed Sandford at the top.
Budleigh in third are 63 points further behind with Cornwood (4th) 72 points in arrears.
Beating Cornwood will turn it into a three-horse race – and if Sandford beat Budleigh Salterton it’s hard to see them being caught either,
“The way the fixtures have worked out this could be a defining weekend for the season,” said Hatherleigh skipper Mark Lake.
“It is an opportunity to put a huge gap between us and the teams in third and fourth.
“Cornwood are a good team but we will be going all out to beat them.”
Duncan Boase, the former Devon keeper and Cornwood’s director of cricket, is under no illusions how steep the challenge is now to get promoted.
“This is another massive game for us and we aren’t giving up on it yet,” said Boase.
“If we win at Hatherleigh and Sandford slip up, it’s game on again.
“The figures speak for themselves with Hatherleigh unbeaten but it’s got to end sometime and we will be trying our hardest to do it.”
Cornwood were batted out of the game by Sandford last Saturday and can’t afford the same problem again.
Said Boase: “We can’t let teams get away with batting like they did in the last few overs last week, probably cost us the game.
“Our bowling and fielding has been good all season so I’m not over worried about that.”
Mark Roca comes straight back in to open the batting with Jimmy Horgan going back down to skipper the 2nd XI.
Adam Goodliffe comes in after missing last week because of a flight delay.
Match-winning all-rounder Charlie Nielson will return to the Hatherleigh XI this Saturday.
SANDFORD’S place in the promotion race could be cemented if they beat Budleigh Salterton on Super Saturday.
The top four are playing amongst themselves with leaders Hatherleigh at home to Cornwood (4th) and Sandford (2nd) entertaining Budleigh (3rd)
Second-placed Sandford are now 41 points ahead, after beating Cornwood by 39 runs last time out.
Hatherleigh are almost over the horizon already. They are 31 points ahead of Sandford and 72 up on Budleigh.
Realistically the scrap is on for second place with Sandford the favourites.
Skipper Richard Foan is trying not to get ahead of himself and is concentrating on winning the game ahead rather than the possible consequences.
“Looking forward to a playing against another good side this week and hopefully getting another win,” said Foan.
“We have a very balanced side at the moment and everyone is contributing which is big reason why we are winning games.”
Tom Williams comes in from the 2nd XI after scoring a lot of runs in recent weeks.
Brian Leach is also in to provide some economical overs in the middle of the innings.
Marc Bettis is back behind the stumps after a week off.
PLYMPTON go into the derby clash with Ivybridge still smarting from a 35-run defeat by Plymstock.
Plymstock were all out for 180 – and Plympton only mustered 145 in reply.
Defeat left Plympton in a mid-table spot., but ,mathematically closer to the bottom two (+22pts) than the top two (-61)
“We are in need of a win following the disappointing result last week and the lads are keen to put the wrongs right,” said skipper Craig Donohue.
The list of lads includes 15-year-old Elliot Hamilton, who comes in to make his first-team debut in place of Dave Ackford.
“Elliot is only 15 but is showing lots of promise, has scored runs in the 2nd XI including a 100 and seems to have a mature head on young shoulders,” said Donohue.
“He is someone the club have identified as a player for the future but at the same time if you are good enough you are old enough.
“I just want him to come in and enjoy it, at the end of the day it's a game of cricket.”
Harry Kandampully comes back in for James Care.
PLYMSTOCK can improve their survival prospects by winnng at Chudleigh –another side involved in the fight to stay up.
Plymstock’s win over Plympton moved them within 10 points of safety.
Chudleigh are three places and 18 points ahead after their own victory over Lewdown.
“Chudleigh away is always a tricky game, but a game we must be looking for a positive result if we are to strive to get away from the relegation area,” said Plymstock captain Scott Mansfield.
“The confidence we can take from last week’s win against Plympton will hopefully stand us in good stead going into the game.”
Top-order bat and keeper Teddy Richards, comes in replacing the departed Seb Jordan.
“Seb has done a tremendous amount at the club and will be missed around the place,” said Mansfield.
“He has now moved away with his work as a web designed and will be playing his cricket for Fairford in Gloucestershire.”
ELSEWHERE in the A Division, Brixham are at home to Lewdown.