South Canterbury’s lacklustre first-innings batting has proved costly yet again this season, as their Hawke Cup challenge aspirations suffered from another sloppy first-up batting effort.
Otago Country will face holders North Otago in the first Hawke Cup encounter of the season after their outright victory over Mid-Canterbury in Ashburton.
South Canterbury were left lamenting lost opportunities against Southland at Aorangi Oval, in their four-wicket loss.
South Canterbury could only muster 147 in reply to Southland’s first innings of 265, and were chasing the game from there.
Despite a late bid yesterday for an outright win, South Canterbury’s bowlers could not prop-up their batsmen one more time this season.
South Canterbury got the chance to use the cloudy, cool conditions on Saturday, as they searched for early in-roads with the ball.
The opening bowlers of Glenn Matthews and Craig Hinton toiled without luck, beating the bat on several occasions, but were let down in the field by some dropped catches when they did draw a mistake from the batsmen.
A recalled Les Humphris needed four stitches in his left hand early on the first morning after he suffered a cut in an effort in the slips. The injury would limit his involvement in the game until the second fielding effort.
Southland opener Ryan Duffy frustrated the home team on his way to 63.
He and Andy Dodd did well to survive the first hour after an early wicket, and built a 79-run partnership.
The introduction of Temuka paceman Kevin Teahen to the crease removed Dodd for 36, and the Southland captain Shaun Fitzgibbon soon followed for nine.
Southland were 159 for three midway through the day, but South Canterbury stuck to their task and took the last seven wickets for 107 runs, to dismiss Southland for 265, in 80 overs.
Teahen finished with three for 52 from 18 overs, while the part-time spin of Craig Davies took two wickets, including the wicket of the dangerous Jason Domigan for 47.
In a match where first innings points could decide the Hawke Cup challenger, the South Canterbury openers of Davies and Richie Preston put on 57, late in the day, before they were both dismissed within three runs of each other.
The departures sparked a middle-order collapse, as the green and blacks lost all momentum, and three more wickets before stumps, to be 101 for five overnight.Southland continued to pick-up cheap wickets yesterday, with 16-year-old Jason Duffy grabbing three of the last five wickets to fall, to finish with four for 27 from his 10.5 overs.
South Canterbury could manage only another 46 runs, as they were forced to follow-on after being rolled for 147.
Forced to bat expansively to set Southland a total for an unlikely outright win, Preston and Davies used their time before lunch to eat away at the 112 run lead Southland had.
Davies was dismissed one short of 50, and 10 minutes before lunch, but Preston continued as the run rate surged past five runs an over, and the deficit was erased.
The runs flowed briefly after lunch, but when Preston was dismissed for 71 off 68 balls, which included four fours and six sixes, the new batsman were forced to keep scoring.
Each of the top-order made starts, at better than a run-a-ball, but the spin of Dodd proved effective, while Southland wicket-keeper, Fitzgibbon took five catches and two stumpings,
The lower-order did not stick around, and South Canterbury eventually set Southland 129 to win, after being bowled out for 246, with 48 overs remaining in the day.
The spin of Dodd was crucial, taking four for 46 from eight overs.
A double-wicket maiden from Humphris sparked the match into life, as he removed Duffy and Dodd in the same over, with just 13 on the board.
Southland staggered further, when South Canterbury captain Dan Laming and Teahen grabbed two, and the Southerners were on the rack at 51 for six.
However, the killer-blow never came, Fitzgibbon was unmoved as he stroked an unbeaten 50, in a 77-run unbroken stand with Michael Beer who was left on 41.
South Canterbury coach Richard Davidson said he did not blame the batsmen for the loss.
“They (Southland) bowled good lines and lengths, and it shows that if you put the ball in the right area, you get rewarded.”