Southland move closer to Hawke Cup challenge
Southland have inched closer and are just one good performance away from challenging for the symbol of supremacy for New Zealand Cricket's minor-associations, the prestigious Hawke Cup.
Southland took on South Canterbury in a top-of-the-table southern zone showdown in Invercargill during the weekend with the sights set on an outright win which would have them preparing for a Hawke Cup challenge with one game to play in zone play.
They came up short of the desired outright result but did claim first innings points which has the Steve Jackson-coached Southland team in the box seat to win the southern zone section if the can avoid any sort of disaster against Otago Country in Invercargill on February 22 and 23.
Again it was Craig Smith who lead the charge backing up from a man-of-the-match performance against Mid Canterbury the week before with another standout display against South Canterbury.
Southland won the toss and elected to have a bowl with Smith leading the attack taking six for 67 with the ball to limit South Canterbury to 181 in the first innings.
Jonathan Hodson also played an important role taking three wickets in the middle just when South Canterbury were getting away at one stage.
Despite losing opener Rhuebyn Prattley, Southland went about knocking over the 182 needed for first innings points in impressive fashion thanks to Sam Ward (75) and Hamish O'Brien's (51) efforts.
The pair put on 116 for the second wicket before O'Brien went in the last over on day one to put Southland at 125 for two at stumps.
Shaun Fitzgibbon (40) ensured Southland got through to the first innings points yesterday but the home team probably didn't capitalise on the impressive start as they went from 186 for three to 213 for nine.
Thankfully, Mark Beer (26) and Jonathan Hodson (11 not out) put on 37 for the final wicket to give Southland a handy, although not startling, first innings lead of 69 runs.
Smith yet again got among the wickets in South Canterbury's second innings, picking up a further three wickets as the visitors were reeling at 66 for six.
Southland looked very much on track for an outright win as they searched for the remaining four wickets and a potential chase at a small target late in the day.
However to South Canterbury's credit they were at their stubborn best and captain Jimmy Laming led the way in that department.
He initially had to leave the field retired hurt because of a hamstring injury but returned to be the thorn in Southland's side finishing 81 not out.
He had great support from the lower-order, in particular Ben Watson who faced 58 balls for his duck - which frustrated the Southland bowlers.
His determined stand helped chip away at the time and in turn avoid an outright loss.
Southland captain Jason Domigan never let up and he was the star of the show for Southland during South Canterbury's second innings, taking six wickets.
His last wicket wrapped up the South Canterbury innings at 146 which gave them a lead of 77 runs and with only two overs left in the day the game was called off.
- The Southland Times