The first three rounds of the 2019-20 Mid North Coast Cricket Premier League season have proved the race for the title will be hotter than ever.
United's Tom Burley has weighed in on the topic. He believes several teams have improved on last season, making for an exciting and evenly contested season ahead.
"There's been a lot of teams this year that have improved," Tom said.
"Rovers have improved and the Pirates, who we played in the second game, are always going to be good - they're a young group but every year are getting better and better."
United went into the season as reigning champions. It's far too early to predict if they can go back-to-back.
"We've had one win and one loss but you don't really get a good look of where the competition is at until January or February," Tom said.
"We always like to say premierships aren't won at Christmas so come March, that's when you've got to start playing good cricket.
"If we can make the finals, we can go real deep with it again.
"Having 18 weeks of consistent performances to get us there will be the struggle with our team."
If it isn't United on grand final day, Tom believes the Manning area would still be represented.
"I think it would be hard to go past Taree West or Wingham," Tom said.
"I think another Manning team will win it this year - I can't say whether or not it will be us but if we can string some performances together at the end of the season."
The grand final will be played on March 28, 2020.
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