Courtesy of the Geelong Advertiser
By Daniel breen
EXCITEMENT abounds at Stinton Oval.
Having endured a long time between drinks, Newtown & Chilwell has high hopes this weekend of ending a winless drought that stretches back to January 2009.
It was that day that the Two Blues defeated a soon-to-be-relegated Newcomb & District outfit.
Tomorrow, it has a potential finalist in North Geelong on the back foot after a super day with the bat at Osborne Park last Saturday.
Two Blues coach Bryan Thomas was under no illusions when asked about his side’s prospects. He knows the job is only half done, with North Geelong possessing more than enough batting talent to reel in the 276 it has been set for victory. Still, there’s no denying the feeling around the club after a huge pre-season and a handful of quality off-season recruits.
“They’ve done a massive pre season and there’s discipline as well as skill that we’ve worked on, so it would be just reward if they get a win on the board,” Thomas said.
“We did a long pre-season, there was lot of enthusiasm and they’re playing for each other. We had 80 at pre-season and it’s been exciting. For a club that’s won two games in two years and been on the downslide it’s great numbers.”
As much as Newtown’s total was built around the brilliant innings of captain Ben Neville (146), Thomas was pleased to see the youngsters bat around around their skipper.
“I set the boys the goal of batting out 85 overs. We faced 84 last week but for young people to bat around Ben like they did was fantastic,” he said.
Neville is also benefiting from having a clear head after shouldering the burden as captain-coach for the past two years.
“The pressure that the club and himself put on each other the last two years was immense. This year he’s been able to clear his head and play his natural game,” Thomas said.
The addition of Geelong trio Tim Nunn, Bennett Merriman and Peter Lynch, as well as tearaway Levi Dare has also allowed youngsters that were previously thrown in the deep end to gain confidence either in lower grades or in positions of reduced responsibility.
“Guys like Yves Roussety are also enjoying having less pressure. He was opening the batting at the age of 17 and battled for two years up there but he’s been able to drop down to eight and that’s going to help him and the team,” Thomas said. “To be honest, there were probably too many kids that were thrown in the deep end too early and we’re just easing them back a bit.”
Newtown’s 2ndXI has already benefited from players dropping back to where they are comfortable and enjoyed an easy win in round one.
Thomas said a 1stXI victory early in the season would mean a lot to the club.
“It would be huge for the club to get a win in the ones. It would really kickstart the season and there’d be a lot of joy for the people who have been working hard around the club and haven’t sung the song for a while,” he said. “Everybody’s excited at the club which is good for the club in its 100th year and it would be good to get a few ones wins under our belt.”