ESKDALE faces one of the toughest finishes to the district first-grade season, but captain Jamie Baude remains confident it can maintain its undefeated run.
The Mitta Valley line-up takes on a resurgent Howlong today ahead of games against second-placed Yackandandah and a Kiewa team caught in a dog fight for sixth spot and a place in the finals.
But Baude said his team was relishing the challenge.
“We’ve got a tough run to finish the season,” he said.
“Yackandandah and Kiewa are going to be tough matches, so it’ll be a pretty exciting finish.”
Baude said a combination of factors had resulted in the club’s good form this season — last season it won just two matches.
“I don’t know what the secret is,” Baude said.
“We’re just playing really well at the moment.
“Last year we finished second bottom on the ladder, so it’s really nice to have been able to turn that around.
“We got a new coach in Geoff Lowcock and we’ve moved training grounds so we’ve got new nets and a bit more room, which is probably helping.
“We didn’t get anywhere near enough runs last year, so we’ve worked on that and improved there.
“But our bowling has remained strong.”
The strength of Eskdale’s bowling attack is reflected in statistics — the team only conceding 872 runs, more than 100 less than their nearest rival.
“Our bowling is definitely our strength,” Baude said.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who are pretty economical.”
Baude leads the bowlers’ list for Eskdale with 17 wickets at an average of 9.0, and he is backed by Liam Tobin (15 at 10.13).
Howlong captain Scott Montgomery said while Eskdale was undefeated, his team was not going to shy away from the challenge.
“They’ve been the benchmark of the competition all season,” he said.
“They’ll probably start the game as favourites, but we’re confident in our abilities.
“It should be a close game, and hopefully we can make just a few more runs than they can.”