AFTER a series of lean years on the representative cricket scene, Lower Clarence has stormed into the Country Plate finals.
Lower qualified for the final four earlier this month after recording a win over Glen Innes and spent all of yesterday making the 1000km drive to Harden for today's game.
Batsman Matt Ardrey said the team would be ready to fire despite being cramped in a bus all day.
"We're looking good for the games," Ardrey said yesterday.
"We'll look at getting a bit of rest after we get there tonight and be ready to play tomorrow."
Lower will meet Robertson Burrawang in today's semi-final with the winner to meet either Yass or Cobar the following day.
Ardrey said it wouldn't be an easy task for his team, but it was a challenge they were ready to meet head on.
"It's going to be pretty tough," Ardrey said.
"Robertson have been scoring a fair few runs in their previous games but we won't be running scared.
"I think we can get them just as long as everyone chips in and does their job."
In a late change to the team, Aaron Jones has withdrawn from the team with young bowler Josh Cormack stepping up to fill the void.
With the level of class across the paddock, it won't be an easy decision when it comes to picking a player to be 12th man.
The power-hitting of Mark Ensbey, Geoff Simmons and the in-form Ben McMahon is expected to yield plenty of runs.
Cormack, Gorman and Bri Hourigan make up the bowling attack which has hamstrung the attacking power of opposition line-ups all year.
Add to that the all-round ability of Luke Many and Nathan Essex, and it's a team that most will find hard to stop.
The path to success hasn't always been as simple as walking the yellow brick road, with Lower coming up against stiff competition in years gone by.
"Let's just say we didn't get past the second round too often," Ardrey said.
"We've always been up against Grafton in the first round but didn't always come away with a win.
"There were a few years we got pounded by Lismore as well so it's good to be on the other side."
In what could be perceived as a warning shot to their southern rivals, Ardrey was straight to the point when asked of his team's chances.
"We didn't come all of this way to lose," Ardrey said.
"The boys are fired up for it and will be keen to rip in."
- Matt Ardrey
- Josh Cormack
- Mark Ensbey
- Nathan Essex
- Josh Gorman
- Bri Hourigan
- Luke Many
- Ben McMahon
- Hayden McMahon
- Darrell Simmons
- Geoff Simmons
- Ritchie Tabor