CHAMPIONS: GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst celebrate their 2018/19 grand final win over minor premiers Brothers Clocktower Hotel at Ellem Oval.
CHAMPIONS: GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst celebrate their 2018/19 grand final win over minor premiers Brothers Clocktower Hotel at Ellem Oval. Bill North

PREVIEW: New look GDSC Premier League ready for lift-off

GDSC PREMIER LEAGUE: Another year of top flight cricket in the Clarence River region gets underway tomorrow and this year promises to be a gripping battle as teams fight for supremacy.

With some freshly forged alliances going up against the best in the area, there are sure to be some enthralling battles as the Grafton District Services Club Premier League heats up for a blistering 2019/2020 season.


Position last year: 1st

Ins: Ethan Lucas, Dylan Lucas.

Outs: Mitch Kroehnert, Jarrad Lynch.

Opening fixture: Tuc-Cop Phil Lloyd Earthmoving at JJ Lawrence Fields (JJ Lawrence Turf).

Jake Kroehnert plays a late cut shot during the GDSC Premier League clash between Brothers and Tucabia Copmanhurst at JJ Lawrence Field.
REVENGE: Jake Kroehnert's Brothers side are hungry to get back over Tucabia-Copmanhurst GI Hotel. Matthew Elkerton

BROTHERS Cricket Club were minor premiers for 2018/19 but things didn't go to plan in the post-season and they fell at the final hurdle to rivals Tucabia-Copmanhurst GI Hotel.

Going through last season undefeated, Brothers looked set to win the lot but their fast-finishing opponents were too good on the day and club captain Jake Kroehnert is keen to erase that memory.

"We'll do our best to make up for the loss, it definitely gives up a bit more hunger to get back up there this time around,” Kroehnert said.

Kroehnert said his side had been slow coming together this pre-season but they were keen to get stuck in.

"We're keen to go again. We may not be as prepared this time around but we're all pretty keen to get the ball rolling,” he said.

"We've had some really good turnouts to training and there's a good feeling among the players for the season ahead.”

With new changes afoot in the GDSC Premier League for the 2019/20 season, Kroehnert said his side was looking forward to the elevated challenge.

"The changes will be good, I think the competition will be a lot more evenly spread this year and we're excited to take on some new faces,” he said.

"There will be a lot more quality cricket this year, hopefully there will be plenty of close games.”

With Jake's brother, Mitch Kroehnert, leaving the squad alongside Jarrad Lynch, Brothers have had to look for replacements but Jake believes they have found the perfect duo.

"The Lucas brothers (Ethan and Dylan Lucas) will step up, they're a really good pair of bowlers. Having some young blokes in the team will be good for everyone in the squad,” Jake Kroehnert said.

Brothers have a good chance to get off on the right foot with Tucabia-Copmanhurst Phil Lloyd Earthmoving up first but they will want to get rid of any complacency for this new campaign.


Position last year: 6th

Ins: Luke Cox, Eli Fahey, Nick Wood, Zac Page.

Outs: N/A

Opening fixture: Tuc-Cop GI Hotel at Lower Fisher Oval.

Coutts/Coffs Colts' Luke Cox bowls in a clash between the Coutts/Coffs Colts and Harwood Cricket Club at McKittrick Park on Saturday, December 15.
WEAPON: Former Coutts/Coffs Colts star Luke Cox is among a number of returning NCPL players. Caitlan Charles

COUTTS Crossing Cricket Club may have lost their connection to Coffs Harbour in the newly reformed North Coast Premier League but it means big things for their GDSC Premier League team this season.

Coming off the back of a disappointing sixth place finish, Coutts Crossing mean business this year and teams will need to take a new approach against a side bolstered with names like Luke Cox and Eli Fahey.

With a solid core of players from last years GDSC Premier League, this crop of cricketers will jell well together to make their mark on the competition.

A test against 2018/19 premiers Tucabia-Copmanhurst GI Hotel is the perfect chance for Coutts Crossing to make a big statement.


Position last year: GDSC Easts 3rd/ Westlawn 7th

Ins: Ben Hill, Ben Shaw, Andrew Latham, Jackson Grieve.

Outs: Hugh Cameron.

Opening fixture: South Services at JJ Lawrence Fields (McKittrick Park).

GDSC Easts spearhead Ben Shaw bowls against Westlawn at Lower Fisher Park in round 4 of the 2017/18 Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League competition on Saturday, 18th November, 2017.
BIG RETURN: Former GDSC Easts spearhead Ben Shaw returns for the 2019/20 season as the Easts/Westlawn joint venture side look to make a splash in the GDSC Premoer League. Bill North

WESTLAWN Cricket Club and GDSC Easts Cricket Club have been playing each other for 70 years but this season they have joined forces.

While this was not the preferred outcome for the two historic clubs, Easts president Bret Loveday said the difficult landscape of senior cricket forced their hand.

"We lost a couple players out of our club and while we could have made up a first grade side, it would have been a bit of a strange assortment with a lot of players not quite ready to step up,” Loveday said.

But Loveday said it wouldn't be easy to come together as one.

"It's early days. We knew this would be difficult but we got together and have nutted a few things out. It might take some time but as long as they get out and enjoy it I think they'll have success,” he said.

Loveday said he'd love to add some silverware at the end of the inaugural journey.

"We've played each other hundreds of times over 70 years and between us we've won over 30 first grade competitions, I would love to add another this year,” he said.

More in full story.


Position last year: 5th

Ins: N/A

Outs: N/A

Opening fixture: Easts/Westlawn at JJ Lawrence Fields (McKittrick Park).

South Services captain Tom Kroehnert sets his field during the Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League round four match between South Services and GDSC Easts at Lower Fisher Turf on Saturday, 2nd December, 2018.Photo Bill North / Daily Examiner
IN CHARGE: South Services captain Tom Kroehnert sets his field during the Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League round four match last season. Bill North

SOUTH Services Cricket Club weren't at their best last season but in a competition with a number of fresh faces they'll be hoping to turn their fortunes around.

With four wins, seven losses and a draw, 2018/19 was far from a disaster for the side led by Tom Kroehnert but they'll need to find more consistency out on the park.

Spearheaded by talented batsmen Kroehnert and Dylan Cleaver, South Services have the ability to pile runs on any side but they need to find more stability deep into their batting line up.

Taking on newly formed joint venture side Easts/Westlawn, South Services will have an unknown task ahead of them but they will look to capitalise on a team that are still working things out.


Position last year: 2nd

Ins: N/A

Outs: Derek Woods, Chris Adamson.

Opening fixture: Coutts Crossing at Lower Fisher Oval.

TUCABIA-COPMANHURST GI Hotel finished on top after a sensational run in the finals last season and while they have lost some key men they are ready to make a charge once again.

Captained by Brad Chard, the Tuc-Cop Cricket Club's top side had a slow start to the 2018/19 season and he believes that may happen again after a slow pre-season.

"It's been a bit of a struggle to be honest, it's always difficult getting everything together before the season starts,” Chard said.

Taking on Coutts Crossing Cricket Club in a big first up test that is likely to be the highlight of the opening round, Tuc-Cop will have their work cut out for them against a re-enforced opposition.

"It will be good to see how Coutts Crossing go after last year with a bunch of North Coast Premier League players coming back in,” he said.

"We're keen to get going again, we'll see how we go this year and hopefully we can get up near the top again.”

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Position last year: 4th

Ins: Craig Behnert, Derek Woods, Bob McKenzie.

Outs: Tyson Blackadder, Justin Blanch.

Opening fixture: Brothers at JJ Lawrence Fields (JJ Lawrence Turf).

Jay Yardy in a clash between Tucabia-Copmanhurst and Westlawn at Ellem Oval on Saturday, December 15.
TAKING THE LEAD: Tucabia-Copmanhurst Phil Lloyd Earthmoving captain Jaye Yardy connects on a big swing last season. Caitlan Charles

TUCABIA-COPMANHURST Phil Lloyd Earthmoving were dead middle in last years GDSC Premier League competition and they have continued to build on strong foundations.

Four wins, seven losses and a draw is a reasonable haul for a second team from Tucabia-Copmanhurst but they certainly have the ability to go one or two better this time around.

Club captain Jaye Yardy said that while his side lost a big wicket taker in the off-season, they've recruited well and are likely to mount a title challenge in the 2019/20 season.

"We lost Tyson (Blackadder) who definitely got plenty of wickets but we did well to get Craig (Behnert) on our side and we've retained a few guys from last year to maintain a good core,” Yardy said.

Along with a couple of good pickups, Yardy believes the experience that his side received last year will make a big difference moving forward.

"We're sitting pretty similarly to last year but it was a lot of guys first year last year and now, with a season behind them, they'll be a lot more confident out on the park,” he said.

Yardy said they have had a promising turnout for the pre-season and believes that enthusiasm will help early in the season.

"We're not going too bad, it's usually pretty hard to get it all together early on but the boys are keen,” he said.

"It's going to be a challenge for us but we're looking forward to it and hopefully we don't have too many long days in the field.”

Tuc-Cop take on Brothers in their opening match and the minor premiers for 2018/19 will prove to be a good test for Yardy's prepared squad.