East Albury starts the toughest three-week period of any fringe finals contender on Saturday.
The Crows are one of five teams battling for the two remaining spots.
East’s run home includes four of the top six, including second-placed North Albury, red-hot flag favourites Lavington and surprise packets St Patrick’s.
The Crows will take winning form into the home game against North after keeping their season alive with three straight victories.
At the halfway mark, last season’s finalists were two and seven, so it’s been a superb fightback to sit just outside the six.
“When we beat Tallangatta, we got a lot of confidence around the group and we’re enjoying playing cricket at the moment,” teenager Miles Hemann-Petersen said.
The Crows pipped an understrength Bushies in a one-wicket thriller, but the season-altering win was a week later against Wodonga.
Hemann-Petersen, who was believed to be the association’s youngest first grade player at just 13 when he debuted against Belvoir in November, 2017, posted his highest score of 34 in last week’s win over New City.
He was asked if he feels like he now belongs at provincial level.
“Yeah sometimes I feel like I’m there, I can do it,” he said.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who turned 15 a fortnight ago, has been fortunate to have another keeper in Dylan Weeding as coach.
“He’s made me stay more relaxed and play my role, (which is to) keep everybody up,” he said.
East will again look to swashbuckling batsman Kris Milosta to lead the way after passing 400 runs for the first time with his 41 against New City.
North’s Brendan Simmons sits one place higher than Milosta in fifth spot on the run-scorers’ list, and Hemann-Petersen says the Crows must dismiss the classy left-hander and fellow southpaw Ash Borella.
Heading into round 13, Tallangatta and Belvoir are fifth and sixth respectively on percentage.
The Crows and Albury are three points out, while New City trails that pair by two wins.
The Phoenix will start rank outsiders away to Lavington, but it could still be alive after the weekend given East and Albury (home to Wodonga) won’t be expected to win.
In the other games, Wodonga Raiders host St Patrick’s, while Belvoir and Tallangatta will be out to gain a mini-break on the other.
Along with East, Tallangatta is the only other fringe team which faces four top six outfits in the final six rounds.
The Bushies also face Wodonga, the Patties and North.
Of the other teams, all face Lavington so wins over sides five through nine will be crucial.
At rep level, Leeton has forfeited Sunday’s O’Farrell Cup match against CAW.
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