Juniors still grand final contenders

ORANGE heads into its Mitchell Cricket Council under 16s preliminary final against Mudgee at Jack Brabham (1) tomorrow undermanned, with two stars unavailable.

Western Zone representatives James and Daniel Donato will miss the fixture due to a clash with the Junior Gold rugby program. The duo will be replaced by CYMS players Ethan Kennedy and Tom Belmonte.

“The Donato boys have actually told me they’re unavailable for cricket for good now, due to rugby,” under 16s coach Gerard Hannelly said.

“Charlie Cooper and Charlie Mortimer are also a part of the Junior Gold program but have committed to cricket, which helps.

“We lose a bit in the Donatos, they’re great cricketers, but the guys coming in know what they’re doing and our side is very strong regardless.”

Hannelly remains justifiably confident, considering Orange bowled Mudgee out for just 36 when the two teams clashed in round three.

Orange whizzed past the target, losing just one wicket in the process.

“You go into every game confidently, but I think last time was a bit of a one-off,” Hannelly said.

“Mudgee have some handy players, and they’ll be looking to make up for last time.”

Orange’s under 14s and under 12s also take the field in their respective preliminary finals tomorrow, both taking on Mudgee as well.

The 14s will be adjacent to the 16s, at Jack Brabham (2), while the 12s travel to Mudgee to try and gain a grand final berth.

Orange go into the under 14 match heavy favourites, having finished second overall and defeated Mudgee by 30 runs in round three.

Despite a huge win over Lithgow in the minor semi-final a fortnight ago, Orange are genuine underdogs in the under 12s.

When the sides clashed in round three, Mudgee dealt Orange a 65-run thrashing in Mudgee, despite finger-spinner Hugh Middleton snaring 5-31.

Middleton grabbed another bagful against Lithgow, taking 6-6, and will be crucial to Orange’s grand final hopes.

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