OMK’s Chris Kerr will be hoping to help the Diggers knock off Leongatha Town in round three’s A1 grand final rematch.

Sam Sperling will be a key player for Koonwarra in their first season back in A1, and he’ll be desperate to secure a win against the Imperials in round three. Photo: Mark Drury.

By Sam Watson

LAST week, the Leongatha and District Cricket Association sent out the fixtures for the 2021/22 season to clubs and there’s some scintillating matchups in store local cricket fans before the Christmas break.

There will be plenty of exciting games in 2021/22, but here’s five we think are going to be ones to keep an eye on in the first half of the season.

• Round 1, November 6 – A1, Phillip Island vs OMK at Cowes Recreation Reserve.

WHAT a matchup to kick off the season in A1.

The reigning premiers, OMK, travel to Phillip Island where they’ll be taking on three of their 2020/21 premiership players including former captain Daniel Mock.

After the departures of Mock, Tom Keily and Adam Miller to Phillip Island, many are predicting OMK to drop off significantly, while expecting the Island to take the mantle as the best team in the competition.

But OMK will be as motivated as ever to prove that is not the case and they’ll be hoping to come away with the points at Cowes.

The decision to have that game as a season opener is a masterstroke by the LDCA, creating a fascinating build-up to the start of the year.

The tension that fixture creates will make for a finals like atmosphere in round one, but there’s a big chance that tension will be heightened when Phillip

Island travel to OMK in round 11, February 5.

• Round 1, November 6 – A2, Kilcunda Bass vs Nyora at Bass Recreation Reserve.

THE Kilcunda Bass vs Nyora game will be one of the first results looked up by most people in the LDCA on the Saturday night after round 1.

Not necessarily because it might be a good game, people will be more interested to see how newcomers Nyora went in their first taste of LDCA action.

Every club, including Nyora is eager to see if they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in their first LDCA season and they’ll be hoping for a statement win in round 1.

Kilcunda Bass also had an interesting year in A2 last year, finishing in third spot before being soundly beaten in the semi-final.

They will be hoping they’ve improved enough to continue competing for the flag, and they’ll be very keen for a good start against some fresh opposition.

• Round 3, November 20 – A1, Leongatha Imperials vs Koonwarra L/RSL at Leongatha Recreation Reserve.

THIS local rivalry matchup will have very high stakes in round three.

After being promoted last season, the Imperials had a fantastic year, earning a spot in the A1 finals series.

But their first two games against Club and Inverloch, who will also be keen to get back in the finals mix, could easily result in two losses.

If that’s the case, they’ll be under immense pressure to perform against the recently promoted Koonwarra, who also will have had two tough games to start the year, playing Nerrena and Phillip Island in rounds one and two respectively.

Koonwarra will be desperate to prove they belong in A1 after winning the A2 premiership, so the clash with the Imperials in round three will be a ripper.

If they do both enter the game with zero wins, the pressure will be right on, as whoever loses will most likely become the relegation favourite.

• Round 3 – November 20, – A1, OMK vs Leongatha Town at Outtrim Recreation Reserve.

GRAND final rematches are always exciting, and there will be plenty of eyes glued to the round three matchup between OMK and Leongatha Town.

With the big-name departures at both teams, there’s a good chance they’ll both be significantly weaker than they last time they met in the grand final, where OMK came out on top after Town looked to be in control of the match.

It’s well within the realms of possibility for them to both be on either two wins or two losses each heading into the match, but records aside, both will be hoping for big wins when they meet in round three.

Town will be extremely motivated to defeat the side that took an A1 premiership away from them and OMK will be desperate to prove they’re still a serious contender in the league.

• Round 6, December 11 – A2, Korumburra vs Wonthaggi Club at Korumburra Recreation Reserve

IN 2021, clubs who have been relegated will be playing against clubs who have been promoted for the first time.

Never have B1 teams come into A2 but that will be happening this season, paving the way for some exciting matchups like this.

Last year Korumburra were in A1, and Wonthaggi’s second team were in B1, but now they will meet in A2, making it an extremely interesting match to examine.

If Wonthaggi Club are even just competitive in the matchup, it will show that those previously at the top of B1 aren’t far from those previously at the bottom of A1.

Many expect Wonthaggi Club and OMK to be more than competitive in A2 this year, so all of their matches will be interesting to observe.

And to go back to Wonthaggi Club’s A1 side, after they didn’t make finals last season, their early season matches will be worth watching closely.