Many red-faced batsmen in final

So much for a changing of the guard.

Big-game specialists Eastern Suburbs have one 1/2 hand on the Pearce Cup as 28 wickets tumbled on a dramatic first day of a three-day final that is likely to be over before lunch today.

Eight-time defending champions Easts are just two quick wickets away from extending their remarkable hold on Wellington's premier club cricket trophy after top qualifiers Karori imploded yesterday.

Karori, who need 13 runs just to make Easts bat again, entered the match talking up their chances. They won the toss and chose to bat first at Barton Oval – a move that quickly backfired, as they were rolled by Easts for just 67 in their first innings.

New Zealand offspinner Jeetan Patel could afford to rest his fingers as Easts seamers Ricky Joseph (6-14) and Nathan Cameron (4-22) took all 10 wickets to fall, with only Harry Boam (36) offering any resistance for Karori.

Karori were feeling better about their work as Easts staggered to 37-7 at one stage of their reply before veteran captain Lance Dry (44) and Josh McLauchlan (31 not out) helped stage a recovery, eventually bowled out for 112. Karori medium pacer Lee Edwards, backing up from Wellington's four-dayer against Otago, took 7-57.

Desperately needing to survive till stumps in their second dig, Karori are instead on the brink at 32-8.

Karori were 27-3 at one stage but then lost the plot, Dry ending the day with 3-1.

Dry said the pitch was not a minefield and the low scores were a result of a combination of good bowling and poor batting.

With Edwards and Karori captain Simon Baker at the crease – both capable batsmen – Dry was not popping the champagne cork last night. "We've still got two wickets to get and were not counting our chickens," he said.

Life was more ordinary on day one of the three-day Hazlett Trophy final, where top qualifiers Collegians will be satisfied with their work against Petone-Riverside.

Batting first, Collegians reached 180 all out at Karori Park; Sri Lankan Prajeev Jansze top-scoring with 46. Petone-Riverside offspinner Sam Blandford claimed 4-37 but his side are in a little trouble with the bat.

Collegians' left-arm seamer Julian Brown is continuing his fine season with 3-15 in Petone-Riverside's reply of 65-4.

The Hazlett Trophy winner earns promotion to the Pearce Cup next season, with University dropping back to the second-tier competition. Petone-Riverside need to win outright to make the leap.

The Dominion Post