Macquarie mindful of the challenges ahead

CRICKET is primarily played on the pitch but an element of the game is also played in the mind and in the weeks leading up to the mid-season break, Macquarie had some serious mind games played on them.

First, defending premiers Rugby chased down a massive target of 353 to beat them before CYMS, their main rival for a place in the finals, beat them by 253 runs in the last game before Christmas.

How the Blues bounce back will be the biggest factor in who takes the third and final spot in this season's finals, as Colts and Rugby are all-but assured of the top two spots.

Already facing an 11-point deficit, a couple of early losses could make their task of chasing down CYMS that much harder.

Macquarie are the only team to beat RSL-Colts so far this season and as such are a dangerous opponent on any given day, but their bowling has let them down at times.

With the likes of Dan Medway, Jason Green and Andrew Page they have a batting line-up that can post big scores but the loss of Jeremy Dickson before the start of the season and the patchy form of former NSW Country quick Declan Hoare has left their bowling stocks a bit short.

Newtown and Souths, meanwhile, are pretty much playing for pride despite there being eight matches remaining.

The Tigers have won two and lost five of their opening seven matches and sit fifth while Souths are yet to register a win despite having one of the most impressive batting line-ups in the competition.

Injuries hindered Newtown's charge early as Mat Skinner recuperated from off-season knee surgery and couldn't bowl while his brother and captain Steve Skinner damaged a hand and also missed some cricket.

With both of the Skinner boys nearing full fitness, another brother, Tom, opening the bowling and Wayne Dunlop at the top of the order, Newtown will cause one of the top teams a scare at some stage during the next two months.

For Souths, the season has been a massive disappointment, with the rot starting early courtesy of a four-run loss to CYMS in round one and a one-wicket defeat at the hands of Newtown in round three.

Those early narrow losses eroded the Hornets' confidence, leading to an outright loss to Colts which skipper Matt Finlay described as 'embarrassing'.

Perhaps a couple of weeks off and a bit of a freshen up may just be the tonic they needed.

With Finlay, Adam Carr, Jack Wells, Tim Berry and Nathan Finlay in the side, Souths have to potential to make runs and with their season basically over look for them to play some attacking cricket and spring an upset or two in the run to the finals.

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