Celtic had no trouble confirming top spot in the Tweedy Cup senior cricket competition with an outright victory over Timaru and Temuka made a late charge for the other final spot.
Temuka was only thwarted by Roncalli/Celtic's Michael Lees as he produced his most important knock of the season, batting the entire innings to ensure a draw for his team who finished seven down and denied Temuka second spot.
The final day of the regular cricket season started with Celtic already in the Tweedy Cup final to be played next weekend, while Timaru also looked assured of being their fellow contender, but Temuka had got the calculators out, and knew exactly what they needed to do to usurp Timaru and get into the final themselves, so were closely monitoring progress from the Celtic Sports Ground.
Celtic declared at their overnight score of 319-7 and with Sam Carlaw tying up one end with the ball on his way to 4-59, wickets fell regularly with Timaru's only resistance coming from captain Zane Sanders and opener Sam Porter (both with 61) as they were eventually dismissed for 181 in 46 overs.
Requiring 4 runs for outright victory, Celtic promoted James Blackstock to open the batting and he duly obliged by pulling a short delivery to the mid-wicket boundary for four off the third ball.
Back at Ashbury Park, with confirmation of the scores, Temuka knew they needed to score more than 245 runs in their second innings and then dismiss Roncalli a second time to earn enough bonus points to sneak past Timaru. They certainly gave themselves a good chance as Nathan McNicol with a fast 75, in his last match for Temuka before moving to Christchurch, and stalwart Johnny Geddis with 100 not out pushed them through to 254-7 when the declaration came after 53 overs.
Unfortunately the declaration probably came 3 to 4 overs later than they had planned as Temuka allowed Geddis to bring up his century but progress was slowed as he could not get the strike until eventually he did and finished with a very tidy 100 not out.
With 43 overs left to dismiss Roncalli/Celtic, McNicol started the best possible way by picking up opener Anthony Walker without scoring but this only brought old head Phil Duffield to the crease to help guide Michael Lees. Together they added 72 runs and, importantly, used up a lot of overs before Duffield was out for 33.
Lees showed a maturity beyond his years as he played correctly on a pitch that had irregular bounce, doggedly leaving balls alone that he did not have to play, defending correctly those he did have to play and not making any errors in the context of the match.
By the end of the innings Temuka were almost allowing him runs so they could attack the new batsmen. At times he was surrounded by fielders in several "silly" positions - silly mid-on, silly mid-off, and so on, but he stuck to his task, got up over the ball and played it straight to ground.
He had another significant half-century partnership with Liam Beck who scored 31 and then watched as part-time bowler Willie Stone snaffled 2 wickets in the last over of the day at the other end.
But by then he had done his job with 47 not out and had saved the game for Roncalli/Celtic who would have finished their season feeling quite positive about their return to senior ranks.
Temuka who had a two-pronged spin attack operating for much of the innings, with Phil Lill rewarded with 3-38, may feel they missed out but it was probably matches earlier in the season that should be re-examined as they did everything they could by scoring the required runs. But to dismiss any senior team within 43 overs should always be a tough ask.
In Waimate, due to the loss of the first day to rain, Waimate and Star played a carnival match to finish the season off in good spirit.
In other grade finals played on Saturday, Timaru Girls' High School retained the women's trophy by beating Craighead in a T20 final; Celtic won JAB Primary A over Waihi on the first innings; and in the second grade B final at Aorangi Oval three 50s were scored by Scannell and Coles for Temuka and Whatuira for Old Boys as Temuka defended 216-8, dismissing Old Boys for 179.
Next weekend, the Tweedy Cup final will be played over Saturday and Sunday between Celtic and Timaru at Aorangi Oval from midday.
- The Timaru Herald