Star and Timaru’s battle to make the final of the South Canterbury senior two-day cricket competition final will be decided on the last day of the regular season on Saturday.
Both teams are chasing valuable competition points to earn the right to face Celtic in the decider in two weeks.
Star, who at present sit second, fell to pieces with the bat yet again in the first innings against Celtic at Mountainview High School.
Dan Laming’s five for 23 helped skittle the home team for just 74 in reply to Celtic’s first innings of 225 all out.
However, a fightback led by unbeaten half-centuries from Danny Campbell (53 not out) and Paul Arkinstall (52 not out) left Star 16 runs behind Celtic’s first innings with eight second innings wickets remaining, after they were forced to follow-on.
Celtic will be severely under-strength for day two of the match, with more than half their first-string line-up likely to be missing due to a wedding or Hawke Cup commitments, which could produce an opening for Star to get an unlikely outright victory.
Celtic’s first innings was set up by a whirlwind knock of 81 from Glenn Matthews.
Celtic were in trouble at 53 for four, thanks largely to the return of South Canterbury representative Craig Hinton, who bent his back with the new ball to unsettle the batsmen.
Matthews’ innings, which included nine sixes, took the advantage away from Star.
However, he threw away a century, when he became one of three surprise wickets for Star captain Phil McGregor.
A rare visitor to the bowling crease, the opening batsman took three for 36 with his left arm spinners, to outshine Hinton’s three for 45.
Star collapsed under the pressure of the medium-pace bowling of Laming, who produced eight maidens in 12 overs on his way to a five-wicket bag.
However, the second innings effort saw Campbell and Arkinstall pepper the short square boundary on one-side of the wicket as they produced an unbeaten stand of 107 for the third wicket. Star will resume at 136 for two.
Timaru did everything they needed too on day one against Waimate at Knottingley Park.
They gained first innings points when they bowled the home team out for 121 in reply to their 179.
All the batsmen made starts for Timaru in the first innings.
Opener Gerald Piddock top scored with 38, and Zane Sanders (27), Sam Porter (24 not out) and captain Hayden Butler (20), also contributed.
Waimate’s best effort came from captain Jason Sew Hoy (46), but it was the left-arm spin of Sanders, who took five for 35, which kept Timaru in control in sticky conditions.
Timaru will resume at 71 for two, a lead of 129 runs.
Roncalli College were in a strong position to gain first innings points against Temuka at Ashbury Park 6.
Tahir Afridi, Roncalli’s opening bowler, grabbed five for 38 to take his season-leading total to 40 wickets in one-day and two-day competitions.
Temuka’s Tom McKnight hit a gutsy 50, but his side were dismissed for 154. Adrian Cunningham (33) made the only other notable contribution.
Afridi received support with the bowling from Henry Race, who snared four for 33.
At stumps, Roncalli were 123 for six.
Afridi had top-scored so far with 24, while Ed Kilbee added 20.
They will have 16 overs to get 32 runs for first innings points when the match resumes.