AFTER watching his side power past Western on Friday, Greater Illawarra captain Jamie Fleming is confident they can take out this week's NSW Country Championships in Goulburn.
The team, featuring Batemans Bay product Rhys Voysey, opened their campaign in dominant fashion, Elliot Hooper playing a key role in leading Greater Illawarra to a 65-run victory.
With one win secured, Fleming said his side will now focus on winning their final two matches on Saturday and Sunday and progressing to the country championships final.
"We can definitely win the country championships," Fleming said. "Watching the energy and enthusiasm we had today, we want to use it as a stepping stone.
"Riverina had a good win as well. We smacked them last year, so they'll be coming out to prove themselves, it should be a very good game."
Greater Illawarra's campaign was off to a shaky start, with the side falling to 4-38 early in the first innings.
The fourth wicket brought Hooper to the crease and he quickly turned the match in his team's favour. Combining with Alex Brown, the duo put on 127 runs for the fifth-wicket before Brown was dismissed for 49.
Hooper eventually made 84, the all-rounder removed as he attempted to push the run rate in the final overs.
Greater Illawarra eventually reached 7-225 off 50 overs, with the bowlers then ensuring Western were never ahead in the run chase.
Rhys Voysey and Dale Scifleet laid the platform with the new ball, before Fleming and Hooper choked the Western batsmen through the middle overs.
With wickets falling at regular intervals, Western were ultimately bowled out for 160.
Hooper finished with three wickets and Fleming said his talent was clear on Friday.
"Our batting start wasn't great, but Elliot is a class above. He's a different standard of cricketer to what we play down here. Alex Brown was also great, he was very composed and supported Elliot really well.
"All our bowlers were great. We bowled to a plan, we put a lot of pressure on the other team and it showed. It was a dominant bowling display."
Friday's win sets up a showdown with Riverina on Saturday, who defeated ACT Southern Districts in their first-round clash.
Greater Illawarra will enter the match without Hooper, the Englishman returning to Wollongong to play for the Butchers before he heads back out to Goulburn for Sunday's clash with ACT Southern Districts.
Despite the key loss, Fleming is confident the remaining players in the squad can step up and perform in Hooper's absence.
"It's a shame we won't have him, he was enjoying it and he's a key to what we're doing here. We lose someone to bowl through the middle overs and keep things tight.
"We get Andrew Twyford though, he's a stellar replacement and I'm confident he'll do a good job.
"If we get this win and then Elliot back Sunday, I can't see many teams beating us. Him bowling with me, like today, we can do some damage through the middle overs."