Nelson take cup with convincing win

Unbeaten half centuries by Greg Hay and B J Barnett helped ease Nelson to a convincing eight-wicket victory over Marlborough in yesterday's Cave Cup representative cricket final in Napier.

Both teams had been demoted to the second tier of the three-day Chapple Cup tournament after first-day losses. But Nelson made the most of their circumstances to at least bring home some silverware after yesterday's reduced 40-over contest.

And it was a disciplined 97-run unbroken third wicket stand between Hay and skipper Barnett that eventually guided Nelson home at 157 for 2 after Nelson's bowlers had earlier restricted Marlborough to 155 for 9 off their 40 overs.

It was fitting that Barnett should score the winning runs when he worked the ball through midwicket off offspinner Nick d'Auvergne for two in just the 32nd over to leave him 62 not out off 60 balls.

Hay remained unbeaten on 51 at the other end, but it was Barnett who comfortably laid claim to the team's top batting honours for their three-match weekend campaign following his 101-run innings in Sunday's winning effort against Wanganui.

The pair had come together yesterday at the fall of opening batsman Dan Cooper's wicket at 60 for 2 in the 13th over, Hay and Cooper having added 44 valuable runs for the second wicket.

Together, Hay and Barnett negotiated a respectable Marlborough bowling attack in which opening bowler Ben Wheeler and Greg Knowles enjoyed the only successes with the wickets of Marty Kain (9) and Cooper (25) respectively.

Hay compiled a patient 51 off 83 balls, hitting three fours, while Barnett collected five boundaries in another accomplished performance as the pair confidently steered Nelson home with just over eight overs to spare.

Nelson's bowlers had earlier produced another concerted effort to have Marlborough under genuine pressure at 98 for 6 in the 31st over. Wheeler had provided the only substance, batting at No 5, to topscore with 46 runs. His 33-run partnership with Ben McLennan for the seventh wicket ended with Wheeler's run out at 131 for 7, a belligerent McLennan subsequently shouldering some late responsibility to finish 20 not out off just nine balls at the close.

Darius Skeaping (1-10), Marty King (2-18), Joe O'Connor (1-22) and Connor Neynens (2-32) successfully complemented each other to quickly wipe out Marlborough's top order, with left arm spinner Kain (2-22) again contributing to the wicket count further down the order.

After Saturday's disastrous beginning, Nelson coach Andrew Cavill was well satisfied with the team's marked improvement over the remaining two days.

"I was pretty happy with our bowling throughout the tournament," said Cavill.

"We bowled Horowhenua out for a 100 and yesterday [Sunday] there was a good [Wanganui batting] partnership, but we stuck at it and ended up winning comfortably by 20 runs. And today, Marlborough were never really in it." Cavill was also delighted with yesterday's match-winning partnership between Hay and Barnett, which helped bring Nelson's tournament to a positive conclusion.

"The biggest thing was that they didn't give it away. In a game like that when you're so dominant, the mindset can be to go down the wicket and try something silly. But that didn't happen and that's something that we've been working really hard on. There were no risks and they did what they needed to do, so that was good."

Meanwhile, Hawke's Bay are this year's Chapple Cup champions after a comprehensive nine-wicket demolition of Manawatu in a one-sided final. Black Caps' seamer Doug Bracewell starred with the ball, taking 5-24 to help dismiss Manawatu for just 90 off 32.3 overs before Hawke's Bay easily reached their target at 92 for one in 24 overs.

The Nelson Mail