WARATAH-Mayfield are eyeing their first win of the Newcastle District Cricket season on Saturday against a Stockton-Raymond Terrace team depleted by the absence of their best two players.
Waratah have endured a tough start to their campaign, including outright losses in their past two games against Cardiff-Boolaroo and Belmont.
But Stockton will be without off-spinning skipper Nick Foster and batting mainstay Jeff Goninan for the one-day clash at Lynn Oval.
Forster and Goninan are away with Newcastle at the NSW Country Championships in Ballina and their absence has bolstered Waratah’s hopes of springing an upset.
‘‘With their rep players out, I suppose it’s up to us to capitalise,’’ Waratah skipper James Rushford told the Newcastle Herald.
‘‘We definitely need a win but there is no point being disappointed about our last two games and carrying that into this game.
‘‘Every game is a new game and we’re staying positive. We’ve got enough good players here that, if we can all fire in the same game, I’m sure we can be competitive against anyone.’’
Rushford was hoping the return of paceman Sam Harrison and the inclusion of 16-year-old Louis Matheson would strengthen his line-up.
Harrison is returning from a groin strain while Matheson has earned his call-up after making an impressive 27 from 29 balls in the recent T20 clash with champions Merewether.
Stockton, who have included Joseph and Dan Clark to replace their representative duo, will be looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Charlestown.
At No.1 Sportsground, 18-year-old Chad Mayo will follow a family tradition when he makes his first-grade debut for Merewether against Wests.
Mayo’s father, Robert, was a top-grader in the 1980s and 1990s. His grandfather, the late Gordon Goffet, played Sheffield Shield for NSW.
Merewether have won all their five games this season but will miss the services of representatives Simon Moore, Courtney Moulton and Josh Geary.
At Cardiff Oval, the home side face their sternest test when competition leaders University pay them a visit.
Cardiff have climbed to seventh after last week’s convincing win over Wallsend but Uni’s fast-bowling contingent have racked up 79 wickets in five games this season – more than any other team – to set up two outright victories.
Belmont’s resources will be stretched to the limit when they host Charlestown at Cahill Oval in the absence of rep stars Mark Littlewood, Marcus Hainsworth and Ray Cooper.
The Seagulls have surged to third on the ladder, one rung above Charlestown, but traditionally struggle when skipper Littlewood is unavailable.
At Passmore Oval, Hamilton-Wickham will be back to full strength after the return of all-rounder Mark Dries when they host Toronto Workers, while Wallsend and Newcastle City will be hoping to rebound from disappointing losses when they meet at Wallsend Oval.
● Newcastle opened their NSW Country Championships campaign with a convincing win over Central Coast on Friday.
Central Coast were dismissed for 146 after Josh Geary took 2-19 and Ray Cooper 2-32.
Newcastle passed their total with four wickets down.
Opener Greg Hunt (50) and skipper Littlewood (33not out) led the chase.
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