Falcons ready to take on the champions

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GROVEHILL Ballpark will stage the biggest game of the NBL season so far as reigning champions Harlow Nationals take on Herts Falcons on Sunday.

The Falcons were on top of the league standings a week ago, but a home loss to the Essex Arrows allowed both Harlow and the Southampton Mustangs to overtake them.

Sunday will be a good test for the revamped Falcons side as their title credentials are truly put to the test against the champions.

Both teams are well equipped offensively and defensively, and Harlow boast last year’s league MVP Edwin Alcantara, and slugger Maikel Azcuy in their side.

The Falcons have their own firepower, with Dave Tretheway, Kevin Niedringhaus, Phil Clark and Ryan Bird already having opened their home run accounts for the year.

Grovehill Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly venues in the league and fans will be expecting to see a home run or two this Sunday.

However, both teams have strong pitchers who may have other ideas. The Nationals have relied largely on Jamie Ratcliff, Brendan Cunliffe and Roberto Almanzar on the mound and so far this campaign and they have allowed the lowest number of runs per game in the league – 4.30.

The Falcons, meanwhile, have used no fewer than six pitchers already this season and they have the luxury of another five pitchers who they can call on, including Darrin Ward who completed his transfer from the Essex Arrows last week.

Defensively, Herts have performed much worse than Harlow – allowing 6.73 runs per game – but it is their batting which has made them one of the frontrunners this year.

So far they have obliterated their opponents, scoring 10.17 runs per game, which is the highest average in the NBL.

The statistics suggest an exciting game is on the cards on Sunday, and the action gets under way at noon. Admission for spectators is free.