NCCC PREMIER LEAGUE: Harwood confident on hallowed home turf
NCCC PREMIER LEAGUE: Now in round four of the North Coast Cricket Council Premier League season, Harwood have played just two games and are still searching for an elusive first win.
The defending premiers welcome Valleys to Harwood Oval tomorrow in a fixture that could be crucial in the weeks to come as the mighty Lower Clarence outfit look to find a spark to ignite their season.
Facing Valleys in their opening fixture, Harwood were slow out of the blocks with an uncharacteristically low score of 146 and the top order providing little resistance to a solid bowling display.
But after the opposition broke away early, Harwood's big-game players stood up to polish off the tail end for just three runs, saving face and forcing the game into a thrilling tie.
Harwood opening batsman Nathan Ensbey said this was as good a chance as any for the side to get their first win in for the season.
"The boys are pretty confident,” Ensbey said.
" We've been frustrated with the lack of cricket after having players away for representative squads, byes and the fires that have put a hold on things understandably.
"But we're going into this clash really confident that we can pick up our first win.”
After a tied game in their last match against Valleys, Ensbey said his side was expecting another tough battle.
"They're a good side. They were understrength last time and I'm not sure if they're fully back but we just need to focus on our own game,” he said.
The talented batsman said the opening to their innings will be vital.
"Those first 20 overs have let us down in our opening games this season. We need to put our heads down and find the right attack without losing too many early wickets,” he said.
"We pride ourselves on our batting ability so it's something we have to work on. I think with patience, a big score will come along.”
Instability has been unsettling for Harwood's top order but Ensbey has faith in their line-up for today's match.
"It's been a bit of a merry-go-round at the top, Doug Harris will open with me because Hayden Ensbey is not available. He's a good cricketer Doug, he's got a good brain and I think we can put together a good innings,” he said.
Valleys went on to win their round two clash against Northern Districts Rebels to take them to first on the ladder, six points clear of Sawtell but the competition is still wide open as sides start coming together.
Ensbey believes this will be the turning point for their season as they look to defend their title as defending premiers.
"We've got a really good team that have been training well together these past few weeks. The guys that have been on representative cricket duties are hitting some great form which gives us confidence,” he said.
GAME DAY: Harwood host Valleys Cricket at Harwood Oval while Sawtell travel to Northern Districts' High Street Playing Fields from 1pm tomorrow in round 4 of the NCCC Premier League.