We have the Chucker Road Derby between Battswood and Lansdown, then the top two play against the bottom of the log teams. Maitland host Devonshire and Van der Stel host Thistle. Helderberg on a bye this weekend.
Let’s look at the Derby 1st
In their last encounter, Battswood took the spoils at home, let us see what Lansdowne will do at their home match. Both teams have recently had losses, Lansdowne on a two game losing streak and Battswood only one. The significance though of this is that both last games that the teams played, they were beaten substantially – Lansdowne last weekend by VDS and Battswood two weeks back by Devonshire. Battswood would certainly have worked on things and rested some tired arms with their break and this brings us down to the home field advantage. Even though they share the same sports park, there is a very definite home and away situation. Not just the local crowd support.
Last week Keagan and Adam did a lot of work on the hill, with Keagan taking the brunt of the pitching, they will be facing a rested Nelson, Liall and Ashley for what will be a close game. Lansdowne are scoring on average one more run a game than Battswood, but also giving up one more run a game and remember the big score they posted against Rovers in December. So neither of these teams have shown the explosive and dominant hitting yet. They are similarly balanced on defence. So the team that makes the fewer errors here is likely to win, unless a pitcher takes the game and controls it. My thoughts here are Lansdowne to take it by a run or two.
Van der Stel host Thistle
If it was not for the beauty and the hospitality (after the game), going out to a hot Stellenbosch to face an even hotter Van der Stel team that have found their stride, would just be brutal. Thistle have what it takes to compete, with the infusion of the Philippi players 2 seasons back, but somehow they just cannot find the rhythm required to compete for 7 – 9 innings. They are ably lead by player coaches van Eerden and Willemburg. They have young WP U18 players that should have matured by now, being 20-21. Then why have they not played to potential? I do not know, what I do know though is that if they do not lift their game significantly, they are going to get a mauling at the hands of a Van der Stel team that are playing at home, with all the Stellenbosch elements supporting them. This would be a perfect opportunity for coach Bles to develop players. My thoughts here are that if Thistle does not find their spark, so to say, this game is likely to be only 5 innings perhaps 7. If they do however, it could go all 9.
Giants host Devonshire
This once more is a David vs Goliath scenario with the Maitland Juggernaut blowing away all that stand in their path. Maitland have all the aces and a couple more up their sleeve. Lefty pitcher Carlo is throwing well, Jayde and Matt are there in the bullpen, Kyle catching and then a team that has scored more runs than any in the league with an average of 12-3 as their result this year. Devonshire on the other hand, have a team that has finally hit a bit of form with a two game winning streak and some lively young players and a good coaching staff. The problem is that any club that has a coach like Don Gillies in their staff is simply not going to be outsmarted or outthunk, so Maitland have the upper hand here as well. The net result is that it is all going to have to happen out on the field. Rovers have, as mentioned, really tightened up their defense and are scoring runs now.
Their young pitchers Shelton and Kieran will prove troublesome to some of the Maitland crew, but how many? We do not know. What we do know is that the Giants bullpen will ALSO cause trouble for the Rovers batters and likely to be more trouble than they can deal with. If Rovers can come to the party in this game, it will be a great game of baseball that Maitland should ultimately win quite easily. Rovers will fancy themselves for 5 innings or maybe even 7, but no more. As mentioned, that is if Rovers can get a jump on one of the Maitland pitchers, if not, then this will be a one sided match but it will be good for the very young Rovers team to try muscle up against the form team in the league.