NORTH Albury will be chasing its first grand final berth since 2009-10 when it takes on Wodonga in the preliminary final at Bunton Park this weekend.
The Hoppers conquered their semi-final hoodoo by disposing of East Albury last weekend and skipper Brendan Simmons is keen to take another step forward.
It was their first win in a final since 2012-13 when they chased down East Albury’s 8-305 thanks to a superb 126 from Ash Borella.
“We’re really keen to get through to the grand final, like I’m sure Wodonga is,” Simmons said.
“It’s been a while.
“Last week was the first final we have won for a while and, for five or six of our guys in first grade, it’s the first final they have won.”
Simmons concedes North Albury will need to find another gear to bring down the Bulldogs.
They have made scores of 161, 218 and 77 in their last three innings and will need more runs to keep Robbie Jackson and company at bay.
“Our batting has probably been letting us down a bit lately,” Simmons said.
“We aren’t batting and bowling well at the same time.
“Hopefully we can put it all together on the weekend.
“It would be great to put a good total on the board and then bowl well.
“Our guys bowled really well against East Albury last week.”
If previous hit-outs are any indication, another tight contest is on the cards.
North Albury chased down Wodonga’s score in the final over of their Twenty20 clash in round two before the Bulldogs won their round six clash by a wicket.
The Hoppers then won another tight tussle by a wicket in round 11.
“They have all been tight and it should be another ripper,” Simmons said.
“They are a quality side with quality players and they were last year’s grand finalists.”
While Borella has enjoyed another fine season with the bat and David Farrell, Greg Daniel and Simmons are proven performers, the Hoppers have been delighted with the form of Ryan Addison.
He has made 304 runs and taken 28 wickets to be one of the success stories of the season.
His half-century against East Albury last weekend proved a match-winning innings.
“Ryan has been great for us,” Simmons said.
“If you told me at the start of the year that we would get 300 runs and 30 wickets out of Ryan I would have been stoked with that.
“Tom Hemsley is back and he’s been great as well.
“It takes the pressure off the other guys.”
Wodonga’s much-vaunted batting line-up failed to fire against Lavington last weekend with Jack Craig the only batsman to score more than 30.