Timaru and Celtic made winning starts to the South Canterbury senior cricket competition with contrasting wins on the opening day of the season.
Timaru enjoyed a 72-run victory over Star at Mountainview High School, while Celtic managed a two-wicket win over a plucky Temuka at Rockdale Rd.
With everyone trying the new 20/25 over format for the first time, no-one seemed sure what a par effort would be in the first innings.
Timaru were sent in by Star captain Jeremy Lane on a pitch which was hard on top but soft underneath which provided some inconsistent bounce, but also got better to bat on as the sun baked it.
A 60-run second wicket stand between Josh Smallridge (35) and Gerald Piddock (21) gave Timaru the early momentum.
However, when Piddock missed a full toss from right-arm spinner Matt Brown and was adjudged leg-before-wicket, it triggered a collapse of the Timaru middle-order.
They lost five wickets for eight runs, and limped through to 89 for six from their 20 overs.
Timaru responded in the field however; some superb slip catching from Josh Dick and some tentative batting from Star helped opening bowler Brad Leonard to four wickets in his first spell.
Star failed to find any momentum with bat in hand, with wides out-scoring any of their batsmen in their first innings, with 14.
Star ended on 43 for five and needed wickets from their bowlers to manufacture a comeback after giving up a 46-run lead.
Leonard was quickly removed for 12, but a 77-run seventh wicket partnership between Sam Porter (64) and Nick Galwey sealed the match for Timaru.
Porter punished anything short and handled the medium-pacers well, while Galwey found his feet at senior level in the anchor role.
Timaru were eventually dismissed for 186, leaving Star needing 144 from 25 overs with five wickets remaining.
Adam Fahey (22) and Tyler Cox (16) showed some backbone for the home team but it was always going to be a losing cause as Star were dismissed for 114.
Leonard finished with four for 16, while Dwayne Richardson and Josh Dick picked up two wickets each.
Timaru captain Zane Sanders said it felt like his team would have depth for the first time in many seasons with the emergence of the young players.
“I’m pretty happy with that win.
“It’s well known that [Porter] came in last year with all the ability and this year he has started to prove himself after some of the established guys failed to contribute as much as they should have.
“We’ve got a good squad – a good mix of young and old and the guys seem committed this year with it being the club’s 150th [anniversary].”
Lane said his team lost too many wickets too quickly in the first innings.
“There are positives to take out of this, we’ve got a pretty young side and they fought back at the end there.”
Celtic relied on three of their older heads to get the job done against Temuka.
Grant Watt took four for 29 with his seamers and Ants de Joux snared three with his spinners as Temuka were kept to 163 for nine from their two turns at bat.
Each of Temuka’s top five batsmen made it to 14, but no-one kicked on with Hayden Broker top-scoring with 36.
It was James Laming who provided the innings of substance Celtic needed.
His 55, along with 29 from Craig Davies and 24 from Jacob Naylor ensured the defending champions kept their noses in front and eventually earned the win.
Rory Lorimer and former Northern Districts batsman Nick Horsley took three wickets each for Temuka, while English import Matt Woods went wicket-less in his first outing, finishing with none for 36 from his nine overs.
Davies gave his side a pass mark for the win.
“Jimmy getting set gave us that platform we needed.
“The bowling was pretty good considering we still have two to come back in Sam Carlaw and James Blackstock.
“The batting is where we might struggle with the three losses we’ve had. We fell away a bit towards the end but that’s OK.”
Broker said it was a solid first outing and he was thrilled with the fight shown by his team.
“We lost wickets at crucial times and couldn’t get that [big] score we needed but it was a pretty good start.
“At least we didn’t get rolled.”