St Paul’s Collegiate School have booked home advantage for Waikato Valley club cricket’s Mike Cotter Cup final, with a round to spare.
The two-time Champions Trophy defending champions, who finished runners-up in the Mike Cotter Cup one-day competition last year, secured a 37-run win at home over Cambridge on Saturday to nab a bonus point and seal their spot as top qualifier for the December 17 decider.
A fine all-round performance from Alastair Blackett steered St Paul’s to their win at the weekend, top-scoring with 46 from No 4, then taking four wickets, as the hosts scored what had looked an unlikely win.
After being sent in, St Paul’s had to recover from a horror start, where they fell to 1-2 and 18-3, with Simon Morbey (3-17 off 10 overs, including five maidens) on fire with the ball.
Blackett was joined by Edward Sclater and the pair went about resurrecting the innings, toughing out a 90-run fourth-wicket partnership in a little over 27 overs.
But just as a fine platform was being laid, the pair fell in the space of three balls. Blackett’s 102-ball stay came to an end with Reo Sakurano-Thomas rattling his stumps, then Sclater (32 off 82) was the first victim of off-spinner Patrick Tomsett, who went on to claim 5-40 off 10.
St Paul’s managed to see out their 50 overs, finishing on 158-9.
In reply Cambridge started in blazing fashion, with openers Dillon Kelliher (43 off 36) and Chris Dodds (21 off 23) putting on 62 in eight overs. It took Blackett to break the onslaught, when he went through the defences of Dodds and started the comeback.
Fellow opening bowler Mathew Fisher struck in the next over, then soon after removed the dangerous Kelliher to put the home side back in with a chance.
Cambridge’s middle order really struggled to hang around with Chris Swanson (26 off 61) and after being 110-4, they collapsed in a heap.
Blackett collected his second wicket, before Mitchell Bailey (3-11 off six) ripped through the lower order, with Blackett then dismissing Swanson and two balls later claiming the final wicket to bundle the visitors out for just 121 in 28.3 overs.
In the end Cambridge’s innings featured an ugly five ducks and a zero not out, as, remarkably, no-one below No 6 contributed a run to the total.
Cambridge are one of three teams still in the running for the remaining berth in the final, with defending champs Otorohanga and Hinuera the others.
Hinuera sit in second spot and at best they could draw level with St Paul’s but because the latter won their meeting earlier in the season, top spot is out of the question. But a win away to Te Awamutu in the final round will get Hinuera to the final.
On Saturday they collected a bonus point in an eight-wicket thrashing of Otorohanga at the Otorohanga Domain.
After losing the toss, the visitors started well with the ball, reducing Otorohanga to 5-2, before seamer Mitchell Green stole the show, claiming the final six wickets in a splendid 6-20 off 7.1 overs, as the home side folded to 100 all out in 31.1 overs.
Despite striking in the first over of the chase, Otorohanga were put to the sword by Antony Marsh, whose 60 off 50 (10 fours, one six) guided Hinuera home in just 18 overs.
Otorohanga are away to St Paul’s in the final round, with Cambridge hosting Morrinsville, who fell to the bottom of the table after going down to Te Awamutu by 74 runs at the Morrinsville Recreation Ground.
AT A GLANCE
Mike Cotter Cup, Rd 4
St Paul’s 158-9 (A Blackett 46, E Sclater 32; P Tomsett 5-40, S Morbey 3-17) beat Cambridge 121 (D Kelliher 43; A Blackett 4-39, M Bailey (jnr) 3-11, M Fisher 2-39) by 37 runs.
Te Awamutu 227-7 (J Gibson 60, C Child 36no, S Law 34; L Koch 2-43) beat Morrinsville 153 (J Van Den Heuvel 33, A Michels 32; M Montgomerie 3-13, A Crayton 3-32) by 74 runs.
Otorohanga 100 (A McLean 38; M Green 6-20, A Tappin 2-40) lost to Hinuera 102-2 (A Marsh 60) by eight wickets.
Points: St Paul’s 24, Hinuera 17, Cambridge 14, Otorohanga 13, Te Awamutu 7, Morrinsville 6.