Eastern and Union have missed some key players throughout the holiday competition, due to injury, unavailability and representative honours, so they have done well to make the final.
Eastern has made the final on the back of three successive wins, with a three-run victory over Albion, a 50-run win over Oamaru and a 37-run win over Valley, while Union has defeated all its opponents.
Union looks certain to welcome back North Otago players Jeremiah Shields, Glynn Cameron, Duncan Drew and Sean Conlan, while Eastern which was given the services of South African Stephan Grobler for the holiday competition, looks set to play without him as he has not played enough games.
Last weekend Eastern’s victory came on the back of two standout performances from Andrew and Cameron Grubb.
With Eastern in early trouble, a strong partnership between Andrew Grubb (89) and George Russel (38) helped get the side through to a competitive total.
With Andrew’s job done, it was brother Cameron’s turn and he did an excellent job, starring with the ball on his way to a haul of five for 29 off 10 overs.
Eastern captain James Dempster said his side was looking forward to its first final since joining the competition just last season.
“We are looking forward to it. I feel the guys have been playing incredibly well and will certainly go into the final with confidence following our form of late.”
Dempster has been really impressed with his side.
“They’ve played incredibly well. A lot of the young boys have, like Andrew, Cameron, George and Matt McLelland . . . and the team is beginning to find some form at the right time,” he said.
Dempster said they would have to nullify bowlers Dan Conlan and Matt Lilley, and also the number of runs scored by the rep players.
“We need to limit their batters as much as possible and not give them any easy runs, especially with them welcoming back there rep players, and Matt’s been bowling well so we have to limit his effectiveness.”
Union captain Jeremiah Shields is expecting a tough match against Eastern.
“They’ve really come into their own in the holiday competition and will be a challenging opposition, but we will head in full of confidence and know we can do the job.”
Shields said the game shaped as an important one.
“Although it’s the holiday competition, people now have a chance to push for selection in the Hawke Cup Challenge and I’m expecting the final to be quite high-scoring.”
Union will be without a couple of key players in Dylan Edwards and Dan Conlan.
“They’ll be huge losses to us, but we are playing a couple of young guys in Hayden Creedy and Blake James and know they’ll step up.”
Shields said momentum in this game would go a long to helping with the Borton Cup and pushing towards the semifinals.
Union comes into Saturday’s final on the back of a win against Valley of which Matt Lilley’s seven for 19 and Brad Fleming’s 81 were standout performances.
The first ball will be bowled at 12.30pm.
By Brayden Lindsay