The South Canterbury primary school cricket team produced their best result in more than a decade at the South Island tournament in Blenheim.
The team was in contention for the title most of the week but finished a creditable second equal, 15 runs short of taking the title on the final day.
On the first day against Invercargill Metro batting first, South Canterbury scored 178, with an important last-wicket partnership of 40 between William Johnston and Nick Goodwin proving the difference.
Ben Cosgriff (3-10) and James Martin (2-10), aided by some brilliant fielding, then dismissed Invercargill for 140.
The second day saw South Canterbury beat West Coast outright, dismissing them for 116 and then 40.
William Sharp took seven wickets for the match, Luka Foy six (including a five-wicket bag) and Ben Davenport scored an unbeaten 65 and was well supported by Lachie Harper with 40.
The results lifted South Canterbury to top place on the 14 team table.
A first-innings win over Southland Country saw them stay on top, with Goodwin taking 4-4 and Cosgriff 3-4, as they dismissed them for 32.
South Canterbury then battled through to 116 before trying to force a second outright but this time Southland showed some character and the match finished with them on 56-4.
The fourth day brought a much tougher proposition in Canterbury Country.
South Canterbury scored 138-6 but Canterbury Country’s 150-7 was too good despite Lachie Harper’s all-round performance, top-scoring with 36 and leading the bowlers with 4-17.
The final day match was against Dunedin Metro, who easily beat South Canterbury in the pre-season.
But with the team brimming with confidence, they restricted Dunedin to 189-6 off 51 overs and remained an outside chance of winning the tournament.
The match went right to the wire as leading batsmen Harper (62) and Sharp (72) continued their good week, adding 134 runs for the third wicket.
Once that partnership was broken, wickets began to tumble regularly and when Sharp was eighth out in the 49th over, 20 runs were still needed.
It became a battle of survival, with James Martin and Jack Thomson surviving until stumps to gain a draw.
Another highlight was Cosgriff finishing as the leading bowler at the tournament, taking 12 wickets at an average of 5.83, with an economy rate of 2.13.
Sharp was not far behind, taking 10 wickets and was South Canterbury’s leading batsman with 150 runs.
Year 7 development
The Year 7 development team won two matches and were unlucky not to add a third victory with a rained-off match to finish sixth out of 10 teams at Mandeville.
South Canterbury traditionally battle at this tournament, only picking up their first win last year.
But this year they beat Christchurch Astle by defending 182-6, led by Jacob Boal.
Boal was the leading bowler at the tournament with nine wickets, two more than the next best of 120 boys.
In their next match, Canterbury Country posted 254 and then dismissed South Canterbury for 66.
Against Nelson on the final day, South Canterbury chased down 129, with several batsmen contributing – especially Shaun Rhones and Cougan Brown, who led the batting all week.
The Year 5 and 6, 12-aside tournament at Mandeville saw South Canterbury acquit themselves well.
They suffered competitive losses to the top two teams – Canterbury Astle and Canterbury Country – and had comprehensive wins over Canterbury Anderson and Buller to finish third, their best ever result in this grade.
Coach David Fisher said the team were a real credit to South Canterbury cricket, with their commitment and sportsmanship.
The team’s fielding was excellent, led by Liam Andrews, Caleb Donaldson and Ollie Porter.
Ten of the 12 also bowled in every game and showed improvement over the four days.
Batting was probably the biggest challenge.
Andrews was however the pick of the batsmen, scoring 110 runs, and was dismissed only three times while Toby Scannell, Fletcher Rhodes and Harper McKerrow all contributed important runs.
At the South Island tournament in Christchurch the girls took a close-fought win over the Metro development team.
The other highlight was the inclusion of bowler Grace Kelliher in the tournament team. The girls however found Cornwall from Auckland and the top Christchurch side tough going.