Timaru were tenacious but Sam Carlaw ensured Celtic would become back-to-back South Canterbury Twenty20 cricket champions.
The four-wicket win in the final of the Waitangi weekend competition at last saw a full-strength Celtic challenged this season.
Had it not been for Carlaw’s 52 not out and five for 31 with the ball, Timaru could have had something in their trophy cabinet after they posted a competitive 146 for 8 in their 20 overs.
Srinivas KS proved his worth for the underdogs, hitting a composed 65 to anchor Timaru’s innings.
Until the final, the tournament had belonged to Celtic captain Craig Davies, who blazed 114 not out off 67 balls against Timaru in their round-robin game and then had scores of 74 and 54 against Waimate and semifinal opponents Roncalli College.
He then took five for 20 with his spin bowling against Roncalli to underline his dominance.
Timaru had squeaked past Star in the other semifinal, by one wicket and with four balls to spare, chasing 111 for victory.
A returning Kris Howes saved Timaru’s blushes, with 70, while Alex McKenzie finished up on the losing side of the ledger, despite taking five for five with the ball for Star.
After being crushed by Celtic, on day one, Timaru showed they had learnt some lessons early, despite Ants de Joux removing both openers, with just 15 on the board.
Their desire for quick singles put the Celtic ring fielders under pressure, rotated the strike and kept the scoreboard moving.
Srinivas KS found the boundary when needed, as he and Zane Sanders added 61 for the third wicket. When Sanders departed for 28, Howes and the rest of the lower-order looked for boundaries.
Carlaw was the main benefactor, taking the last five wickets to fall as wickets and runs came quickly.
Celtic wobbled early in the chase, Davies was caught behind by Tim Mackle, from the bowling of Sam Wilson for just three, while the hard-hitting Glenn Matthews soon came and went.
Willie Wright and Dan Laming made it to double-figures but Celtic slumped to 61 for five.
An urgent Timaru could sense an upset, and while their fielding was sloppy at times, the overs soon clocked up.
Carlaw and Matt Mealings shared in a 84-run sixth wicket partnership, but never broke free until the 19th over.
Needing 22 off 12 balls, Carlaw was merciless on the medium-fast bowling of Jordan Morrow, as his over went for 20.
Mealings was dismissed in the final over for 22, but it only postponed Celtic’s celebrations, scrambling home with three balls to spare.
Timaru captain Hayden Butler said it was great to see his team show signs of improvement.
“We learnt a lot from watching the other teams play, and you could see the improvement that we made throughout the weekend.
“I’d say we were a worthy second.”
Davies said he was not surprised with how well Timaru had played, and said the win was a sweet one.
“It’s Twenty20; you just need one batsman to come-off and fortunately for us that was Sammy [Carlaw].
The fastest 50 of the tournament was scored by Roncalli’s Ryan de Joux off 18 balls.
Below you can view some random photos courtesy of Hayden Leonard from the Twenty20 weekend.