ANU captain Bennett backs troops

ANU captain Mark Bennett. Photo: Graham TidyANU is not exactly sprinting towards the finish line, but captain Mark Bennett is confident in the knowledge his side is in control of its finals destiny.

Chasing its first play-off appearance in several years, ANU is clinging to fourth place going into the last round of the Douglas Cup two-day competition starting on Saturday.

A first-innings victory against last-placed Weston Creek Molonglo (eight points) in its match at ANU North Oval will put ANU in the box seat for a semi-final showdown with minor premier Queanbeyan.

If ANU slips up, North Canberra Gungahlin can claim the last remaining finals berth with a first-innings result against seventh-placed Tuggeranong (eight points) at Harrison.

Norths can also leapfrog ANU if it secures an outright win and ANU doesn’t.

Both sides are locked on 16 competition points, with ANU having the edge courtesy of a superior percentage.

ANU appeared certain to book a spot in the finals, but two draws and an outright loss in its past three games has left it in nervous territory.

Bennett said it was hard to get a gauge on his side’s form given some rain-affected results in recent weeks.

”We would have liked to have wrapped it by now, but unfortunately it’s not the case,” Bennett said.

”We don’t have to rely on any results if we win, which is always good.

”We just have to back ourselves and turn around our patchy form.”

Queanbeyan is assured top spot on 38 points, while Wests/UC and Eastlake are equal second on 26.

Since beating third-placed Eastlake in round 10, ANU drew with Norths and Ginninderra and suffered a three-wicket loss to Queanbeyan.

ANU hasn’t featured in the finals since making the decider in 2006-07 and has become more competitive on the back of several impressive youngsters. Batsman Owen Chivers made a double century earlier in the season before missing eight weeks with a broken hand.

He was rewarded with selection for the ACT in this week’s three-day match at Manuka Oval against the NSW second XI.

With the ball, fast bowler Scott Murn has been a revelation and claimed eight wickets in his previous match.

”Those two guys have been fantastic all year and bring a lot of energy to our team,” Bennett said.

”Owen had that little break with his broken hand, but it was good to see him score some runs for the ACT during the week.”

All games start at 11am.

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