Competition for a place in Hamilton club cricket's Howden Cup final is still alive going into the last weekend of play in the Eddy Marr Bowl one and two-day round-robin competition.
The final round of two-day matches began on Saturday and five of the six teams are still battling for a spot in the three-day decider on March 30-April 1.
Heading into the last round, Eastside Tavern Melville were the only team out of contention to play in the final, and their woes continued at the weekend, as Fraser-Tech took command of their match at Galloway Park.
Batting first, Tech started well, with Jared McDonald (36) and Bryce Reed (61) putting on 88 for the first wicket and No5 Andrew Dodd added 44 as off-spinner Mitchell Dickeson, son of former Northern Districts left-arm spinner Cliff, struck repeatedly for Melville to keep Tech pegged down.
Dickeson ended with the splendid figures of 6-68 off his 20.2 overs, as Tech were bowled out for 209 in the 64th over.
Melville reached 60-3 in reply but when opener Keir Bettley (42) departed to Dodd's left-arm spin, Melville remarkably lost their last six wickets for two runs. Dodd finished with 4-11 off seven overs, and captain and off-spinner Prakash Gosai 5-19 off 11. Tech made Melville follow on and in the five overs they faced, Melville lost the crucial wicket of Michael Dodunski, so will head into this weekend 7-1, still trailing by 131 runs.
Top of the table Lonestar Hamilton Boys' High School were up against a superb knock from Daryl Mitchell in their match against Rodeo Rodeo Suburbs at HBHS. Mitchell, at No4, brought up his century off 166 balls and went on to make 112 as Devon Singh-Parhar and Nikhil Vishwanath claimed three wickets apiece. The competition leaders then faced 30 overs before stumps and they got through to 78-1.
In the other match at Galloway Park, half centuries to the Martin brothers have got Data Plan Old Boys in a good position against The Quadrant Star Varsity. Star started well but stuttered to 186 all out, as seamer Jono McNeil took 4-43 off 18 overs and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner collected 3-55 off 13.
In response, Old Boys will resume this weekend 24 runs in arrears on 162-4, with Mike Martin unbeaten on 50, following brother Steve's knock, out for the same score opening the innings.
Otorohanga and Hinuera will face off in what is a virtual final in the last round of the Waikato Valley Champions Trophy 100-over competition this Saturday.
Following the penultimate round of play at the weekend, only those two sides can claim the title, and they will square off at the Otorohanga Domain on the last day of the season.
Hinuera have a four-point advantage over Otorohanga at the top of the table after crushing Morrinsville at Pohlen Park in Matamata on Saturday.
The hosts made a modest total of 162 but still won by 132 runs, after rolling Morrinsville for only 30.
Having failed to defend 305 against Cambridge the weekend prior, Hinuera would have been anxious with a much smaller total, but some terrific, aggressive fast bowling put paid to any nerves.
Jason Rusk ended with figures of 4-15 off 4.2 overs and Andrew Tiddy claimed 3-15 off five.
Otorohanga go into the last round on the back of a loss after going down to Te Aroha by three wickets at Te Aroha College. Leighton Parsons' 98 got the visitors to 212 but Calvin Hewitt struck 106 in the chase, while Matthew Bell capped a fine all-round day by making 53, following his 4-44.