Leaders cement spot in final

WAYNE MARTIN
Last updated 13:46 26/11/2012

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Stoke-Nayland have secured their place in the final as WTTU and Wanderers now fight to join them with just one round of the Nelson two-day cricket competition remaining.

Despite struggling to a draw against home team Randles Cafe and Bar Wakatu at Victory Square on Saturday, leaders Car Company Stoke-Nayland still earned enough points to cement a finals berth in three week's time. Harrington's Beer Cafe Waimea Toi Toi United were involved in a staggering 667-run bonanza in their drawn contest against home team Athletic College Old Boys at the Botanics, while Taylor's Contracting Wanderers picked up first innings points before losing outright to Sprig and Fern Tavern Motueka at Memorial Park to still remain an outside chance of reaching the final.

It means that Stoke-Nayland now lead the series on 60 points, followed by WTTU on 49 and Wanderers 31. ACOB are on 23 points, with Wakatu and Motueka both on 21.

There were some special individual performances on Saturday. Young Wakatu opener Giles Black and the more experienced WTTU batsman Ricky Edwards each scored centuries at their respective venues, while Motueka opener Kurt Pahl contributed an unbeaten 90 runs to help lead his team to their five-wicket win over Wanderers - the only game to get a start on day one.

Seventeen-year-old Black compiled 106 runs against Stoke-Nayland to become the youngest Wakatu batsman to score a senior club century, Black's maiden club ton helping to anchor the team's 250-run first innings total at Victory Square.

It was one of two contests affected by first day rain and with only first-innings points available, Wakatu always appeared to have the upper hand as Stoke-Nayland struggled through to 135 for 8 in reply at the close of play. Black produced the dominant Wakatu innings, hitting 18 fours and a six, before his was the fifth wicket to fall at 203 for 5.

He compiled 85 runs with fellow opener Dustin Ems-Healy (28) and a further 67 runs with Richie Wilkinson (24) for the second wicket as Campbell Mclean (21) and skipper Shane Laurence (18) attempted to add some substance to the middle order. A late 21-run dab by No 11 batsman Greg Du Feu, including two sixes and two fours, helped lift the total through to 250 after 67 overs as Mitchell Ross earned the plaudits in a severely depleted Stoke-Nayland bowling lineup with 5 for 78 off his 20 overs.

A 42-run contribution from makeshift opener Marty King, supported by an unbeaten 25 runs from Mo Taylor and 24 further down the order from Todd Marwick, provided Stoke-Nayland's main resistance as Wakatu's bowlers, led by Jay Wright (4-25) and Laurence (3-27), steadily picked up wickets before time ran out with Stoke-Nayland under severe pressure at 135 for 8.

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Meanwhile, the batsmen clearly enjoyed the sun on their backs at the Botanics where ACOB became the first and only team this season to pick up all three batting bonus points.

However, their remarkable score of 353 for 5 off 60 overs was seriously challenged by WTTU's batsmen who, in turn, compiled an astonishing 314 for 6 off just 46 overs as the match ended in a highly entertaining draw.

ACOB's batsmen attacked from the outset as openers Tony Watkins and Greg Chitty blasted 146 runs in their opening partnership, Watkins hammering 51 runs, including 10 fours and a six, and Chitty smashing a run-a-ball 88 with nine fours and six sixes. Sam Burgess joined in the fun to hit 75 runs off 70 balls (15 fours, one six) while Dan Grimes remained 60 not out at the finish, hitting seven fours.

WTTU's batsmen readily accepted the challenge, a 65-run third-wicket stand between Craig Ingham (42) and Edwards laying the foundation before a blistering 131-run partnership between Edwards and Mason Thelin set the ground alight. Edwards took just 92 balls to smash 116 runs, including 15 fours and three sixes, as Thelin offered excellent support with 43 off 38 (eight fours).

More carnage was to follow in a brisk 78-run sixth-wicket stand between Jon Routhan and Dan Wightman, Routhan hitting five fours and four sixes off 34 balls for 55 runs before Wightman ended the day unbeaten on 25 with WTTU just 39 runs adrift at 314 for 6.

At Motueka, Wanderers had outright points in their sights until Pahl's composed innings wrenched the game from them to hand Motueka an unlikely outright win.

Motueka could only add a further eight runs from their overnight total of 101 for 7 in search of Wanderers' 126-run first innings total, Wanderers' seamer Jack White claiming two of the remaining three wickets to finish with excellent figures of 7 for 41.

But Wanderers could not gather any meaningful second-innings momentum, eventually declaring at 179 for 8 after Tom Cross had held the innings together with an unbeaten 81 (12 fours, one six). Andy Leonard contributed 27 runs from No 9, although an effective Motueka bowling response, with Craig Hampton taking 4 for 52, helped keep the innings well in check.

Set 197 runs for victory, Motueka were eventually steered home by Pahl who signalled his early intentions by clouting Hayden Ingham for six to open his account. He would add a further two sixes and 14 fours, combining with Bryan Krammer ke (29) and Hampton (23) in crucial third and sixth-wicket stands respectively to keep the runs ticking over as they steadily and successfully eroded their target.

- Nelson

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