Defiant Sunbury United shuns the dreaded R-word

Steven Fogarty has cemented the number three spot at United. Picture Shawn Smits

Despite being on second last on the ladder and in danger of relegation, Sunbury United isn’t thinking the worst in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup.

With less than two points separating the bottom four sides and with only three weeks left in the season, United coach Jeremy Newman knows his side can control only the task at hand.

“We’re really not looking at relegation,” Newman said last week.

“The side is on the improve and we don’t want to put more pressure on the boys by talking about relegation. We have to concentrate on ourselves and stick with it and keep improving.” Newman said that being in the relegation fight hadn’t even crossed the mind of the reigning premiers at the start of the season, though they weren’t necessarily expecting another premiership, either.

“There are lots of positives from this year even if the results don’t look great,” the coach said. “We’ve had 10 players make their first XI debut, which is really good.

“I had a fair idea there would be at least five to six changes to the side.

“Three players had knee surgery in the off-season and others have stepped back to spend more time with their families.” Knowing it would take time for players to settle into the lineup, Newman is pleased with those who have stepped up.

“Steve Fogarty is batting at number three and puts a lot of value on his wicket.

“Jesse James is a young fast bowler who listens and wants to learn, and we’ve seen massive improvement over the season.

“Harrison Knott, who’s been dropped back to the seconds, is scoring 50s and taking five-wicket hauls in the same games at that level. He’s benefited from playing firsts.”

Meanwhile, United has a lot of work to do to knock off Gisborne in the current round. After being bowled out for just 90, United needs to take early wickets on day two when Gisborne resumes at 3-39.

“If we can get one or two early wickets we’ll be in with a chance,” Newman said.

“We need to bowl tight, not leak too many runs.”

Elsewhere, Riddell is 2-18 chasing Sunbury’s 147; Romsey is 0-2 in pursuit of Bacchus Marsh’s 237; and Woodend is 4-28 chasing Diggers Rest Bulla’s 149.