1 March is the wettest month
Mostly what we learned was that March is the wettest month in Sydney, with average rainfall of 164mm. The rain wiped out any hope of a result anywhere in First Grade, disappointing noboldy more than Sutherland, who had reduced Blacktown to seven for 42 after Tom Doyle hit his maiden First Grade century. The fact that no-one scored any points, anywhere, means that the top four (Sydney University, Gordon, Bankstown, Sydney) are all assured of playing in the finals. University goes into the last round still holding on to first place, but having played only sixty overs of cricket in the last month and with a challenging away game against Bankstown. If Bankstown were to win, and Gordon beats Wests, University could drop as low as third. There are still six teams are playing for the last two spots. Here’s how it works:
Parramatta (5th, 47 points) needs to beat Mosman, but even if it does it can still miss out if Penrith beats Sydney and Manly beats Hawkesbury with a bonus point. If that were to happen, Manly would sneak past Parramatta on quotient. Alternatively, if Parramatta loses to Mosman, it would need all but one of Penrith, Manly, Randwick-Petersham, Eastern Suburbs and University of NSW to lose. Or, if you want to explore every possible situation, Parramatta would get through if all but one of Penrith, Manly and University of NSW lose and Easts and Randwick-Petersham tie.
Penrith (5th, 47 points) is in an identical position to Parramatta. A win over Sydney gets the Panthers in. If they lose, they need the cards to fall their way in the same as Parramatta.
Manly (7th, 46 points) needs to beat Hawkesbury. If either Penrith or Parramatta trips up, that gets them through. If Penrith and Parramatta both win, Manly will need a bonus point. Manly has a better quotient than either Parramatta or Penrith, so finishing equal on points will be enough.
The next three sides could theoretically sneak in, but need big wins and a whole lot of luck. Randwick-Petersham (8th, 43 points) needs to beat Eastern Suburbs and then needs a whole heap of results to go its way: it needs Parramatta, Penrith and Manly to lose and University of NSW to lose or win without a bonus point. Essentially the same position applies to its opponent, Eastern Suburbs (9th, 42 points). And University of NSW (10th, 42 points) needs to beat Fairfield. Even if they can pick up a bonus point, the Bees will still need only one team out of Parramatta, Penrith, Manly, Randwick-Petersham and Easts to win (unless, of course, Randwick-Petersham and Easts play out that tie).
We’re assuming (in line with the long-range forecast) that there’s no further interference from the weather. On the other hand, March is the wettest month in Sydney.
2 Sydney leads the pack in Seconds
In the least surprising news anywhere in Premier Cricket, Sydney could forget to turn up this Saturday and still be minor premiers in Second Grade (they’re twelve points clear of second place). University of NSW also has second place sewn up, courtesy of a smash-and-grab win in Round 14, one of the few victories achieved in any grade. John Venianakis (6-50) claimed career-best figures in Seconds to dismiss Bankstown cheaply, after which Connor Jackson clinched the result with his maiden century for the club. Northern District and Manly can’t miss the finals. But then there’s the log jam. Mosman (48) and Parramatta (44) play off for a finals place, although if Mosman were to lose, it could still cling to sixth place if Penrith, Gordon, Sydney University, Eastern Suburbs and Fairfield-Liverpool all lose as well. It’s a simple equation for Penrith (7th, 44 points): it needs to upset Sydney, and then its strong quotient should earn it a place in the finals no matter how anyone else goes. Gordon (8th, 43 points) needs to beat Wests to go past the loser out of Penrith and Mosman; then it needs Penrith to lose as well. Sydney University (9th, 43 points) is in the same position as Gordon, but with an inferior quotient, so it needs Penrith and Gordon to lose, or to sneak ahead of Gordon with a bonus point. Eastern Suburbs (10th, 42) and Fairfield-Liverpool (11th, 42) are real long shots, but it’s mathematically possible for them to reach the finals if Penrith, Gordon and Sydney University all lose.
3 The Mitchell Cup holders are minor premiers again
The only result in Thirds in Round 14 had no important bearing on the table: Randwick-Petersham’s demolition of Campbelltown wasn’t enough to haul it into finals contention. And Third Grade is the most straightforward of the finals races. Sydney University, the current Mitchell Cup holder, is guaranteed to win the minor premiership regardless of results on Saturday. Only two points separate the next four teams (Mosman, Wests, Penrith and St George) but all of them will play in the finals. Sixth-placed Northern District is six points clear of seventh-placed Manly and eighth-placed North Sydney, so Northern District will miss out only if it can find a way to lose to 18th-placed Campbelltown and either Manly or Norths snare a bonus point.
4 The current premiers will be back in the Fourth Grade finals
Sydney University clinched a place in the finals with its first-day victory over Fairfield-Liverpool. Ryan Holcroft (4-32), captain AJ Grant (2-20) and Angus Cusack (2-14) did the damage with the ball before University chased down its target of 88 within 34 overs. Even so, Sydney is certain to finish first here, and no-one can beat Northern District into second spot. St George (56) and Sydney University (56) can’t miss out. Gordon (5th, 54) is fairly safe, but if Wests spring an upset, Gordon can be overtaken if Easts (7th, 48) beat Randwick-Petersham with a bonus point. Penrith (6th, 50) is vulnerable if it can’t beat Sydney – in that case, the winner of Randwick-Petersham and Easts could take sixth spot, although a low quotient means that Randwick-Petersham (another Round 14 winner) would probably need a bonus point. It’s also possible, if Penrith and Easts both lose, that Manly (9th, 43) could slip past Randwick-Petersham into sixth if it can beat Hawkesbury with a bonus point. That would leave Penrith, Randwick-Petersham and Manly all on 50, and if Penrith loses heavily and Manly wins massively, Manly might just be able to lift its quotient above Penrith’s. These aren’t the kind of odds you’d back when sober.
5 The minor premiership is up for grabs in Fifths
Penrith and Randwick-Petersham both advanced their positions on the Fifth Grade table by winning in Round 14. There’s a real fight for the minor premiership– any one of the top four teams could still finish first. It would be unwise to beat against the leader, Gordon (56) who has a great quotient and faces 15th-placed Wests in the final round. But St George (55), Penrith (53) and Randwick-Petersham (52) are all within striking distance and will all play in the finals. Northern District (50) looks pretty safe, too: even if it were to lose to Campbelltown (18th), it can’t be passed by Hawkesbury (7th, 43) and has a much better quotient. So the only top-six side that’s really at risk of missing out is Blacktown, which has to beat second-placed St George. If Blacktown loses, it can be passed by Hawkesbury (43), Mosman (8th, 42) or Sutherland (9th, 42), although Sutherland’s poor quotient means that it would need a bonus point.