ORANGE coach Steve Ryan, in conjunction with his senior players, set two goals for the 2013-14 Western Zone Premier League season - solidify the Orange playing group, and enjoy a more successful campaign than the previous few seasons.
According to Ryan, his players have achieved both those goals.
Orange has won two of its five WZPL games, with a breakthrough 16-run upset over Bathurst away from home and a 91-run pummelling of Cowra at Wade Park. The second victory gave Orange its most successful campaign in four seasons.
Now, Ryan knows it’s crunch time.
Orange takes on Mudgee in the final round of the WZPL season on Sunday at Wade Park.
The clash doubles as a President’s Cup fixture, and Ryan said two milestones ride on the result.
“Third place in the WZPL is up for grabs,” he said, with Orange currently sharing third spot on points with Mudgee, Bathurst and the Blue Mountains.
“But the more important one is the President’s Cup. After the Bathurst win we gave ourselves another goal, to win the President’s Cup. This game is crucial to achieving that.”
Orange must win its clash with Mudgee to ensure progression to the annual competition’s final, to be played on February 16 against either the Blue Mountains or Bathurst.
Despite the do-or-die nature of the game, Ryan is looking at the big picture.
“This season is already a success, don’t get me wrong,” he said.
“We’re developing a team culture, and team harmony we haven’t had at a rep level for a few years. We’ve got young players stepping up and performing with a good mix of experience, especially in our bowling attack with guys like Jackson Coote and Dan Sandford. We also had five Mitchell representatives.
“It’s been a great year and getting a spot in the President’s Cup final would top it off.”
Ryan knows Sunday’s clash will be a tough encounter, despite Mudgee boasting a very young team.
“Most of their under 21s play opens as well,” Ryan explained. “But they’ll be tough, they beat the Mountains, who beat us. So we can’t take them lightly. Hopefully we can get as close to our full strength team on the paddock as possible.”
Ryan and fellow selectors Steve Warrington and Chris Novak were hoping to finalise a team last night.