Celtic confirmed top spot in the Daily Freightways semi-finals with one more round yet to be played after easily scoring the 204 runs for victory set by Timaru, while Geraldine captain Matt Barnes disproved his own theory that when he scores runs Geraldine loses after compiling a classy 117 against Star and then was rewarded by a good bowling and fielding effort as he led his team to an 85 run win. Temuka also enjoyed their trip away to take the honours in Waimate and move up the table to second spot.
This means that next week will see some interesting match ups as five teams vie for the three remaining semi final spots. The winner of the Temuka/Geraldine match will definitely make the finals, while the loser could still get in as well, but Star have to beat Timaru to have a chance in their local derby, while if Timaru win then Star, Timaru and Waimate who will need to be at their very best to beat Celtic will all go to count back and probably run rates to decide the fourth semi-finalist.
Barnes the young English professional in his second season in South Canterbury showed his class as he not only battled the bowling attack, but also the elements as the wind gusts changed from a hot nor’wester to a frigid southerly. He dominated all the bowlers, seemingly with all day to play sweep shots to the spinners, drive through the covers or dispatch any short deliveries with classic pull and hook shots and South Canterbury will be looking forward to when he also does this at Hawke Cup level.
Barnes was supported in his initial partnership for the second wicket by Ben Millar (21) and later by George Harper (20) and he never looked in trouble until he masterminded his own downfall by giving a catch to Craig Fraser on the long off boundary. By then Geraldine were already on the way to a competitive total and a cameo of 35 not out by Phil Lill during the last five overs got Geraldine to 226-6 at the end of their 45 overs.
Fraser immediately showed his intentions as he went on the attack, but Tom McKnight soon got rid of him for 9, and then with Tim Butler following soon after, Star was 10-2. This became the story of the day as the often unheralded Geraldine bowlers kept making breakthroughs with Guy Metcalf (3-31) bowling well in the middle and with the ball following Gary Muff who took 3 catches in the outfield or edging through to keeper Matthew Walker who added a stumping to his 3 catches, Star were never in the game and soon slumped to 39-5.
When all seemed lost at 92-8 Mark Evans decided he would prove to his captain that he should be batting higher up the order as he scored a typically belligerent 42 adding nearly 50 runs with Gareth Sutton (12) for the ninth wicket before McKnight had the last say to finish with 3-10 and Star were all out for a slightly more respectable 141.
Timaru batted first at Rockdale Rd and would have been reasonably happy with their effort after Gerald Piddock again got the innings off to a good start before being run out for 38. Grant Brookland also continued his recent good form and had just brought up his fifty when he suffered the ignominy of being run out by Grant Watt. Zane Sanders (33) and Tim Mackle (20) contributed to a solid looking middle order, but Timaru never really pushed on after at one stage being 160-4 and ended up scoring 203-9.
For Celtic Glen Matthews with 3-27 continued his fine season with the ball while James Laming also picked up 3 wickets from his nine overs to keep his allrounder’s mantle intact.
In reply Celtic led by Ryan De Joux never looked troubled after he quickly took the Timaru attack apart on his way to 87. In one scoring sequence he hit seven fours in a row and all up his innings included 15 fours and 2 sixes, and his dominance could clearly be seen in his partnerships. The first wicket of Craig Davies (21) fell at 77 and then when De Joux was second out the score was 120.
In contrast Jeremy Liddy appeared to be putting up a new picket fence and his boundary to bring up his fifty was only his second, but again it was a solid knock and in partnership with an unusually patchy looking Dan Laming (35 not out) they added 87 runs to give Celtic their fourth consecutive win in only the 34th over.
Temuka and Waimate fought out a low scoring affair at Knottingley Park but with starring performances for Temuka firstly with the ball by Dillon Lees who took 6 wickets for 28 runs and then an unbeaten 65 by Johnny Geddis, Temuka scored the 125 required for a win and still had 4 wickets in hand. Scoring runs proved hard work making the Geddis innings even more significant since extras was the second best score by both teams, and on the day this innings was probably the only difference between the two teams.