There was no other way to describe Eastern Suburbs' predicament as they lurched to 62-7, batting first against bitter rivals Karori in the Wellington one-day final on their home track yesterday. "We were rooted," said skipper Lance Dry.
"It was a good deck and we'd batted really poorly."
A few hours later and the Kilbirnie Park clubrooms were rocking, the trophy cabinet set to be adorned by the inaugural Ewen Chatfield Cup after Easts conjured a 31-run victory.
Thanks to a magnificent all-round display by 19-year-old Jamie Gibson, who scored 96 not out and took 5-34, Easts defended their title and return to Auckland in April for another crack at the national club championship.
Gibson added 125 with Dry for the eighth wicket which meant Easts posted a serviceable 222-8.
After opener Luke Scully scored a brisk 83 and Tom Scully 44, Karori were looking good in their chase before Gibson, returning from a sharp opening spell, and Dry (2-10 off eight) slammed the brakes on. Karori were dismissed for 191 in the 44th over, losing seven wickets for 53.
"They're a good team and you always take pleasure out of beating the top sides. It was more the way we won, out of the game and they were 140-3 with 20-odd overs left, they were cruising," Dry said.
"We managed to pick up a couple and put a bit of pressure on, and they cracked. They'd played most of the cricket."
Gibson, an Otago University student, earned special praise from his skipper after a rollicking 98-ball innings. Easts needed a go-to man after key batsman Ben Orton missed the final to attend his brother's wedding.
"He [Gibson] was awesome.
"He's got to be in consideration for higher honours, especially after this last performance [by Wellington]," Dry said.
"He hits the bat hard and he's a big tall guy. He's only 19 and he's just a really good cricketer.
"He's got a pretty big future."
Saturday's first round of two-day matches saw those teams that held the whip hand after day one, go on to record useful outright victories; with one exception.
Onslow appeared destined to make it three wins over Karori this summer, when they went into the second day of the clash with a healthy first-innings lead. Resuming at 215-5, in reply to Karori's 151, Onslow were bowled out for 245 on the morning of day two.
Karori then rattled on 273-3, Chris Spring top-scoring with 113 not out, leaving Onslow to chase 180. They never got close, with Lee Edwards taking 6-21, as Karori rolled them for 70.
University could muster only 75 in their second bat, against Easts, en route to an innings and 61-run defeat, while Taita were comfortable eight-wicket winners over Wellington Collegians in the last of the Pearce Cup clashes.
In the Hazlett Trophy, Johnsonville fought back to draw their match against Hutt District, with healthy outrights achieved in the other games.
Upper Hutt were seven-wicket winners over Petone-Eastbourne, Naenae Old Boys beat Wainuiomata by six wickets and North City enjoyed a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Easts' B team.
- The Dominion Post
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