For the first time since the 2014-15 season, Hillgrove and Easts won’t be battling for Armidale Cricket’s first grade on day trophy.
However, a clash between the local rivals this Saturday will go a long way in determining the result of the competition with the winner taking on City in the decider.
As it stands, Easts are one point behind Hillgrove on the table but a win could leapfrog them into second.
Hillgrove were missing seven players in their recent win against Servies including captain Matt Schaefer who returns for Saturday’s do-or-die encounter.
“I like our side that we've got this week, we probably have our strongest side on the park we could possibly get without Bails [Matt Baillie],” he said.
“All the guys are back now and we have got a heap of bowlers to pick from and I think we have picked the strongest side we can pick. I'm confident but the boys will have to lift. Scoring 80-odd this weekend is not going to win it for either side so the batting is going to be really important.”
Easts were missing players in their recent win against City but will be at full strength to take on a strong Hillgrove team.
Captain Sam Uphill expects it to be a hard fought encounter, typical for Easts and Hillgrove battles.
“We will need everyone on deck this weekend,” he said.
“They have got big game players that win a lot of good cricket games. A lot of depth, for someone like Andrew Curry to comeback and take seven-fa when they didn't have any bowlers just proves the amount of depth of their cricket club and where every club strives to be.”