There was a mad final scramble to be in the showpiece of South Canterbury senior two-day cricket.
The final day’s play of the final round saw some bizarre scorecards on Saturday as Celtic, Star and Waimate competed for the two final spots.
Rain had limited all three matches on the first day, which meant Celtic, in particular, had to get inventive to earn an outright result against Waimate at Knottingly Park, and end Star’s season.
Waimate were short on top-players but were in the best position to at least make the final.
Despite some wobbles, the Waimate ring-ins were able to hold on for a draw against the defending champions, ensuring they would meet Star at Aorangi Oval next week.
Star themselves were not keen to force the pace in their match against Roncalli at Mountainview High School.
They took 48 overs to make 199, and while they collected first innings points after rolling Roncalli for 140, only Waimate denying Celtic was enough to secure their finals berth.
Timaru ended their frustrating season with a morale-boosting 112-run win over Temuka at Temuka Oval.
Waimate survived a determined Celtic, who were chasing an outright win in just 90 overs.
The home team took 44.2 overs to make 83 in their first innings, with only Glen Drake, Adam Polson and Jason Sew Hoy making double-figures.
Glenn Matthews and Craig Davies took three wickets each for Celtic, on a pitch which assisted Davies’ spin but not Matthews’ pace.
Celtic set out to knock off the total quickly, but the slow pitch and the logical defensive field-set of Waimate meant they declared after 14.4 overs at 59 for eight.
Drake and Alan Reid bowled all the overs for the competition leaders, with Reid finishing with four wickets while Drake’s spin nabbed three.
Waimate had to survive 45 overs while building their 24-run first innings lead.
Again, Drake and Sew Hoy made 32 and 22 respectively, as Waimate staggered to 111 for nine at the close, denying Celtic a chance to defend their title.
Sew Hoy said his side were keen to bat time and knew facing Star in the final was a much better prospect than Celtic.
Davies said the pitch did not help his side’s need to score runs quickly.
“We were trying to go out there and blaze away but the pitch just didn’t allow us to do that.”
He said he was pleased with the season, having won the one-day and Twenty20 competitions.
Davies said losing play to rain in three two-day matches proved too much to overcome.
Star played it safe against Roncalli, making the match a first innings affair.
Phil McGregor made a solid, yet sedate 45 at the top of the order, while Jack Harper added a late 46, as Star set Roncalli 200 for the first innings points.
Grant Watt took three wickets, while Daniel Dorgan and Ben Watson snared two for the school side.
Roncalli’s innings never got the momentum to chase down the total.
Ryan de Joux top-scored with just 26, and while some of their batsmen looked set to anchor the innings, they all managed to get themselves out after the hard work was done, as Roncalli fell 50 runs short.
Jeremy Lane took five for 39, while the medium-pace of Paul Arkinstall ended with four for 24.
Generous declarations made for Timaru’s win over Temuka.
Timaru declared at their first day score of 41 for two, which was quickly followed by Temuka’s decision to forfeit their first innings.
Gerald Piddock saved his best for the last match, scoring 52, while Indian-import Dhananjaya scored 65 for Timaru.
Timaru made 175 all out in their second turn at bat, and had it not been for Hayden Broker’s five for 27, it could have been more.
Temuka crumbled chasing 217 as they struggled to combat the spin of Zane Sanders who finished with four for five from six overs, as Temuka were skittled for just 104.
Timaru captain Hayden Butler described Sanders as “unplayable”.
He said having 200 runs to play with was a new experience for him as captain, but one he enjoyed.
Temuka player Kevin Teahen said his side initially had ideas of winning the match outright.
“We had to try a couple of things, and unfortunately they did not come off.”
He said a lack of player commitment, especially to training had hurt the latter part of their season, after a promising beginning.
The two-day final will be played at Aorangi Oval this weekend.