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OBR and Ngatapa the teams to beat as Hope Cup semis loom

CRICKET

What wouldn't any cricket team do to have just one of them?

Opening batsmen Craig Christophers and Thom Berry again laid the platform for victory at the Harry Barker Reserve in Round 14: two weeks out from the Hope Cup semi-finals, their club leads the six-team competition with 28 points.

In pursuit of Rawhiti Legal OBR are Ngatapa (28pts), HSOB Presidents (19), Horouta (13), Gisborne Boys' High School (10) and Campion College (7).

“Those guys in our team who had never played the game before this season — such as Rongomai Smith, Damon Husband, John Cupitt and Matt McFatter, who hit both a cover drive and a straight drive for four on Saturday — have made a lot of progress,” said Christophers.

“We get good numbers at training, the boys work hard at their skills, all help with team jobs, gear, set-up and enjoy each other's company on and off the field.”

What the OBR captain described there is a happy team.

Their 77-run win v the Bollywood High School Old Boys Presidents at the weekend was again powered by their productivity with the bat, after winning the toss.

Christophers (77 not out) and Berry's first wicket-stand ended with Berry's retirement for 63, 13.4 overs into the game: the score then was 105 en route to 204-7-30.

HSOB's regular wicketkeeper Ollie Needham bowled seam-up (2-27-3) to good effect and off spinner Brett Armour (2-32-6) was pinpoint accurate, but the Presidents could muster only 127 in response: they were dismissed in 24.3 overs.

Jason Lines, in at No.8, made their highest individual score — 43 — hitting five 4s and a six off 36 balls in just 45 minutes, but the next best effort was 13.

OBR's bowlers divided the spoils four ways: veteran Phil Viljoen (2-13-6), paceman Lloyd van Zyl (2-13-4), leg-spinner Mana Taumanu (2-20-3) and the ever-dangerous Amit Vyas (2-32-6) were the wicket takers.

HSOB captain Isaac Hughes said: “That No.3 wicket had good bounce and the ball swung, but we couldn't get an early breakthrough. Then we just never got going with the bat.”

Horouta did against Boys' High what Ngatapa did the week before — they weathered the storm.

Coastal Ultrasound Horouta's 42-run win v Gisborne Boys' High owed much to their top order's absorption of pressure from new ball bowlers Nathan Trowell (3-22-6) and Max Briant (1-23-5).

Their fellow seamers Matt Foster (2-43-6) and Daniel Watts (1-25-4) disguised their changes of pace against opener Kavinda Mudiyansalage (43), No.3 Mel Knight (26), captain second-drop Heyan Ranasinghe (24) and Etienne Botes (22), batting at 5; The Waka battled to 172-9 v youngsters sharp enough inside the inner ring to run two batsmen out, GBHS keeper Jack Whitehead-McKay completing those run-outs courtesy of return throws from Sebastian Wilson and 13-year-old Kelan Bryant.

Year 9 Bryant, who made five not-out off eight balls from No.9 on debut v OBR in Round 11, gave a better indication of his potential on Saturday with an unbeaten 56 from 64 balls — including 10 boundaries — for the highest individual score in the match.

He is a natural timer of the ball who hammers anything loose — in particular, balls aimed at leg stump.

He scored his runs against a ferocious fielding unit which employed both hand and foot to make ground stops. Their captain held five catches and ran opening batsman Briant out to finish the third over, with the score then 1-6.

GBHS were 8-62 three balls into the 21st over before Briant and his skipper Daniel Stewart (24 from 22) put on 50 runs for the ninth wicket.

Boys' High were dismissed for 130 in 29.3 overs, having salvaged self-respect with a gutsy partnership. Stewart played his best innings of the season to date in support of his youngest cricketer.

“We bowled and fielded decently,” said Stewart.

“Some chances didn't go our way, but we put our bodies on the line to make stops and run outs, and that kept us in the game.

“In the second innings, Kelan showed the older boys how to bat. He was our man of the match.”

Along with Briant's breakthrough knock and The Waka's chat and energy in the field, features of the second innings included Botes' tremendous caught and bowled v Wilson (4): medium-pacer Botes (3-8-6), Piumal Madusanka (3-22-6) and leggie Terry Te Moananui (2-19-2.3 overs) all had their moments. Ranasinghe, whose team lost to GBHS by 10 runs on the same ground — HB1 — a month ago, said: “Boys' High gave us a good fight. My boys — and ladies (Mel and Kayley (Knight) — did well.”

Ngatapa are no dark horse.

The Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps are the defending champions, and on Saturday made it three from three for the season v Campion College with victories by five wickets, two wickets and 87 runs last Saturday.

Put in to bat on HB4 by Campion captain Liam Spring, the Caps posted 197-7-30, wicketkeeper-batsman Simon Wilson hitting eight boundaries in his 48-ball 52 from No.1.

Wilson and his partner Jack Jefferd (31) reached 89 as a pair with one ball remaining in the 14th over before Jefferd fell to pace bowler Grace Levy (3-32-6).

Another Campion seamer, Matt Naden, took 2-31-5. Campion player-coach Mark Naden's 23 from No.10 was the college's highest individual score with the bat, as they batted out their full complement of 30 overs: they were 9-110.

Big left-armer Faulks (3-18-6), the even taller Jared Gillies (2-10-3) and Tim Gardner (2-17-6) did, with consistent line, length bowling and good field settings, winkle Campion out.

Mark Naden said: “Ngatapa batted really well and made probably 50 too many runs for us to chase down on the day. We did manage to bat for 30 overs.

“Thanks to Ngatapa for allowing us to bat Luke Hurlstone twice, when Braden Sycamore fell ill and had to go home.”