Te Puke and Element IMF Cadets have the opportunity to book Williams Cup semifinal places in the penultimate round of the Baywide competition tomorrow.
While both sides will be without their Bay of Plenty representative players, who are defending the Hawke Cup against Canterbury Country at the Bay Oval, they will take unbeaten records into their match-ups.
Leaders Te Puke have home-ground advantage at the Te Puke Domain against Tauranga Boys' College. Both sides have plenty of firepower.
Tauranga Boys' College teacher Mark Orchard, who is player/coach of the Tauranga students, has posted the most runs in the post-Christmas competition with 329 from five games. Tauranga Boys' also have a top-three bowler in their ranks, with Henry Conway sitting on 11 wickets for the Williams Cup season.
Te Puke lose nothing by comparison, with Jeremy Bates having developed into a genuine all-rounder in the last 12 months. Bates has taken 12 bowling scalps and has a highest score of 134 not out, which puts him in seventh place in the batting stakes.
Mitch McCann has had a sterling season to sit in third place with 227 runs; the talented all-rounder is on Bay of Plenty duty.
One of the real rivalries of Western Bay cricket will resume when Cadets square off against Mount Maunganui at the Tauranga Domain.
The Mount team would like nothing better than to take away Cadets' unbeaten Williams Cup record, and a Mount victory would move them into contention for a home semifinal.
While both are without Bay players, the two clubs have strong reserve-grade sides where they can go for replacements.
Williams Cup titleholders Eves Realty Greerton will still be smarting from their Twenty20 loss to Central and get the opportunity for revenge at Pemberton Park. Greerton batsman Cameron Neal sits in second place in the standings with 238 runs. However, Central have a strong bowling line-up, led by Bay representative bowlers Ben Blackett and Andrew Gibbs, who could trouble the Greerton batsmen.
East Bay United sit in fifth place on the standings and still have a theoretical chance of playing finals cricket. However, they need to beat BOP Indians tomorrow and post another victory in the last round to have any chance of making the top four.
Williams Cup draw, tomorrow: BOP Indians v East Bay United, Smallbone Park; Te Puke v Tauranga Boys' College, Te Puke Domain, Element IMF Cadets v Mount Maunganui, Tauranga Domain; Eves Realty Greerton v Central, Pemberton Park.
Williams Cup points: Te Puke 35, Cadets 33, Mount Maunganui 23, Greerton 23, East Bay United 17, Central 11, Tauranga Boys College 11, BOP Indians 4.
Williams Cup statistics, top three: Batting (Runs): 329 Mark Orchard (TBC), 238 Cameron Neal (Greerton), 227 Mitch McCann (Te Puke); Bowling (Wickets): 13 Joel Mathews (East Bay United), 12 Jeremy Bates (Te Puke), 11 Henry Conway (TBC).