WITH just two rounds remaining before the Upper Hunter District Cricket Association finals begin, the race for eighth spot is heating up, and it's Brook Blue who looks in pole position.
While A grade finals are out of reach, the B grade play-offs are a genuine possibility and would mark a significant moment for the club, who has shown extraordinary improvement in 2019-20.
Having previously gone more than two seasons without a victory, the Muswellbrook side has won five games this year and currently sits in eighth position, six points above the Silver Slugs.
A win in the final two rounds, or a loss to the Slugs, would see the Blues competing in mid-March.
This comes off the back of their win over Bunnan during the weekend's Super Saturday event, which saw each side play back-to-back T20 matches at Bill Rose Sports Park - aside from Silver Slugs and Belltrees who had a bye in round 19 and 20 respectively.
Captain Peter Turnbull was solid in that match, making 26 with the bat and bowling an extremely tight spell of seven runs from four overs.
He was outperformed with the ball by Dom Cooper though, who produced another strong individual performance by taking 2-3 from four overs.
It was truly a team victory as they chased down Bunnan's 89, as Noman Jawaad, Alexander Armstrong, Josh Copper and Dom Cooper all chipped in with double-figure scores.
Unfortunately, the outcome wasn't so positive in the second game of the day, as they got hammered by 79 runs at the hands of top-placed Belmore Bulls.
The ladder leaders batted first and piled on 129 in 20 overs, before dismissing their opponents for just 50.
Youngsters Will King and Ben Crackett again excelled, as the former made a match-high 30 with the bat and the latter took 2 for 1 from 3 overs.
Turnbull's four wickets means he can still hold his head high, although he will likely be looking forward to next week's important home clash against Merriwa.
Souths will have to search for positives from the weekend having lost both matches.
Not being bowled out as they posted a total of 101 in the fixture against Aberdeen wasn't an awful result, although failing to reach triple-figures against Merriwa would have stung.
Although Silver would probably be hurting even more than that after losing their game against Murrurundi with just a few balls left.
After posting a score north of 130, the Slugs looked a good chance to take the points, but dramatically saw the seventh-placed side chase the runs down in the final over.
That leaves them six points short of Brook Blue, meaning they will need to win their final two matches to steal the last B grade finals spot.
Round 19 results:
Aberdeen 6/183 defeated Souths 8/101
Brook Blue 6/96 defeated Bunnan 5/89
Merriwa 6/91 defeated by Belltrees 5/94
Murrurundi 98 defeated by Belmore Bulls 6/132
Rouchel 73 defeated by Bushrangers 6/112
Bye: Silver Slugs
Round 20 results:
Aberdeen 97 defeated by Bushrangers 104
Merriwa 4/84 defeated by South 80
Rouchel 2/93 defeated Bunnan 68
Brook Blue 50 defeated by Belmore Bulls 129
Murrurundi defeated Silver Slugs