Timaru and Celtic booked finals spots in the South Canterbury senior Twenty20 cricket competition, after six senior matches in one day made the finals race a lot clearer.
With each of the six senior teams playing twice on Saturday, Celtic were the only team to win both games, while Timaru’s win over Star in their first match ensured theirs would be a repeat of last year’s final, on January 27.
Celtic cruised past Roncalli College’s score of 98 with six wickets and 16 balls to spare in their opening match at Ashbury Park 6, in a match reduced to 18 overs due to overnight rain.
Willie Wright (31 not out) and Jacob Naylor (22 not out) combined to get the champions home in plenty of time, after the Roncalli bowlers gave some early cheek on a pitch that offered the bowlers some assistance.
Earlier, Celtic spinners Ants de Joux and Sam Carlaw each took three wickets.
Former South Canterbury player Andrew Buckingham returned to senior action for the schoolboys making 23, while Barry Ward completed two stumpings with the gloves.
Star were unable to defend 136 against Timaru, but learnt their lesson to defend the same total against Temuka later in the day.
A belligerent 58 from Nathan Tubb looked to have provided the perfect platform for Star, however, playing on an artificial pitch at Ashbury Park 3, meant runs always flowed from the bat.
Tubb’s half-century was cancelled out in the run-chase by Logan Taylor (53) and Dhananjaya Murari (66 not out). The pair combined to knock off the runs with 23 balls to spare and eight wickets in hand.
Temuka won a crucial toss in their first-up match against Waimate at Aorangi Oval. With the wet weather and overcast skies, Temuka bowled effectively and restricted Waimate to 97 for four from their 20 overs. Hayden Matthews top-scored with 22, while Nathan Sew Hoy added 20.
In contrast, Temuka openers Richie Preston and Rory Lorimer wasted little time in chasing-down the target – Preston (40 not out) and Lorimer (48 not out) to get the total in the ninth over for a comfortable 10-wicket win.
A captain’s knock from Star’s Phil McGregor (47) gave Star the best start to their second match with Temuka.
Matt Heywood added 36 to guide the middle-order to 136 for nine from 20 overs.
Nathan McNicol, Dylan Lees and Che Latta each managed two wickets for the Magpies.
Star fielded well during Temuka’s chase, taking their catches and producing run-saving efforts on the ground.
The big wicket of Preston (30) added pressure on an erratic middle-order.
Les Humphris added 26, while Kevin Teahen struck 15 not out, but a clutch penultimate over from young seam bowler Tyson Hamilton, when Temuka needed 19 runs from 12 balls, effectively saw his team home.
Hamilton took a wicket and conceded just six runs, to give opening bowler Jeremy Lane plenty of runs to play with in the final over.
Temuka were bowled out 11 runs short.
Timaru moved from the artificial pitch to Roncalli’s Ashbury Park 6 and capitulated for 60.
Josh Dick (20) was the only Timaru batsman to make double-figures, while Liam Beck took three for 12 from his four overs.
Ryan de Joux led the way for Roncalli with 33 not out, while Harry Millar added 10 not out. This meant Roncalli could make their target with 11 overs to spare and nine wickets in hand.
Waimate’s batsmen came good in their final match with Celtic.
Waimate captain Jason Sew Hoy was happy with 147 for seven batting first, especially with Celtic missing usual captain Craig Davies and Dan and James Laming.
Waimate’s total was formed around contributions from Jason Sew Hoy (38), Nathan Sew Hoy (36) and Connor Farrell (31).
Jason Sew Hoy said they lacked a score of more than 50 in both their matches.
Naylor again proved crucial with the bat for Celtic.
Given a rare chance to show his talent, he hit 69 not out and shared in an 86-run second wicket partnership with Mark Tutton (34) which swung the match in their favour.
They scored the winning runs in the 18th over, having lost just three wickets.
There are two Friday night matches still to be played before the final.