Darcy Smith's fine form with the bat faces the acid test on Saturday when he steps up to face first-grade flag favourite North Albury.
Smith, with 352 runs to his name in second grade for St Patrick's, is one of three players drafted in for the trip to Bunton Park alongside Isaac Keighran and Ben Jones.
Having finished 2021 with an unbeaten 118 against East Albury, Smith has two other half-centuries to his name and will need to draw on that confidence against the region's premier attack.
"Darcy's our leading scorer in the twos by 150 runs or so and with Mitch O'Brien out this week, it gives him a good opportunity to have a crack at first grade and try to cement a spot," Patties captain Dean Nicholson said.
"In terms of Ben Jones and Isaac Keighran, they've been solid contributors all year for the twos.
"Isaac's coming in off a good four-wicket performance last week and Jonesy played all last year in first grade so he knows he can compete at the level, it's just about giving him his first crack for the year and hopefully he takes it with both hands."
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St Patrick's haven't won since December 4, while North Albury are 18 points clear at the top, but Nicholson insists there is no shortage of belief in the group.
"We know we need to win every week to give ourselves the best chance to make finals this year," he said.
"North Albury are a great side. They're not sitting top of the ladder for no reason.
"If anything, when they bowl first, they're chasing low totals and there aren't a whole lot of blokes who are doing the work for them so if we can unsettle that top order of theirs, we have confidence we can get through them.
"They've got a lot of bowling depth so it's pretty hard to get at the bowling but if we can attack one or two bowlers here and there and try to score at a decent rate with the other boys, that's how we've got to go about it.
"I don't think there's been a game where we've played to our potential all year but we can't expect to click just because we need to win games now.
"The mood at training is still very high but it's now a matter of putting it into action on the field."
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