Celtic close to KST semifinals

Biddy Kates Celtic can become the first Marlborough team to secure a semifinal spot in this season's Kelvin Scoble Trophy (KST) combined one-day competition when they host Nelson side Waimea Toi Toi United (WTTU) in a round-four clash at Horton Park in Blenheim tomorrow.

Celtic lead KST pool two with two wins from two matches and a victory over the defending champions WTTU on the No 1 ground would see them qualify for the final four with a match up their sleeve. WTTU beat Motueka first-up and went down to Wanderers in their second match.

However, last season's winners hammered Celtic by nine wickets on the same ground on their way to the 2011-12 title and that match will no doubt be fresh in the minds of both teams.

There are just two changes to the Celtic side which beat Guthrie Bowron Renwick by 114 runs last weekend. Middle-order batsman Jared Stewart comes in to replace former Central Districts seamer Brent Hefford, while opening batsman Tom Argyle has headed off to university, Clay Wilson his replacement.

The only other Marlborough side in KST action is Renwick, who have a tough assignment away to Athletic College Old Boys at the "Botanics" in Nelson.

ACOB are strong on their home ground and sit second behind Stoke/Nayland in pool one, while Renwick are all but out of the running after losses to Grove Tavern Wairau and Stoke. A full-strength Renwick side is set to make the trip over the hill, Ed Gilhooly coming in and one of last week's team still to be omitted.

Meanwhile, on Horton No 3, Wairau and Criterion Hotel Wairau Valley have the KST bye and square off in a round two Marlborough one-day competition match. Wairau are coming off an impressive away win against Wakatu, while an undermanned Valley were humiliated in Motueka and both sides have a raft of changes tomorrow.

Greg Logan and Marty Vercoe are Wairau's major losses, Geoff Barnett and Hamish Morrow dropping out and young Harrison Boyce heading back to second grade. Mike Hood, Leon MacDonald, Chris Pope, who is fit to bowl, and Fraser McIntosh return to off-set those losses, with Ma'ara Ave rotated in for Boyce and set to act as a second spinner behind captain Nick d'Auvergne.

For Valley, Matt McCormick, Duncan Grigg, Richard Franklin and Chris McMurtrie are in, with Mark Gear unavailable and Ben Lowes and Ethan Gleeson going back to second grade.

The Marlborough Express