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Hope Cup set to go

Ngatapa can barely contain themselves.

The first game this season for the Senior B club cricket champions of the past two years will be a replay of the 2019-2020 30-over Hope Cup final.

Mike Gibson will lead the Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps against the High School Old Boys Presidents of Isaac Hughes on Harry Barker Reserve No.4 at 2pm tomorrow.

Ngatapa have farewelled all-rounder Angus Orsler — now a member of the HSOB premier grade side — but canny off-spinners Grant Walsh and Jeremy Castles, who hobbled HSOB in their final run-chase last season, are back for the Caps.

On March 9, Ngatapa's margin of victory was 33 runs; a year before, Matt Raleigh had caught Horouta skipper David Situ on the midwicket boundary to give Ngatapa their first title by one run. Tomorrow's Ngatapa line-up includes classy 'keeper Simon Wilson and gritty opening batsman Jack Jefferd. HSOB stalwart Glen Udall will this season wear Gisborne Boys' High School first 11 colours for the first time since 1986 as an old boy seconded with a young team in the premier grade, but keeper-batsman Ollie Needham, Israel Turner and Jeff Chambers will all return for the HSOB Senior B side.

Siteworx Horouta captain Heyan Ranasinghe's team has a new look.

Former Northern Spirit off-spinner Mel Knight, who is also the head coach of the Tairawhiti Women's Cricket Club, said: “We're stoked to have four women's players — myself, Kayley Knight, Rubi Perano and Grace Levy — turn out for Horouta, and one other (Campion seam bowler Maddie Ashworth) all playing club cricket: there's a pathway for them now.

“Horouta supports all cricketers, with Phoebe Taylor, Jayxena Piwari and Sara Stannard having played for the club in the past.”

Horouta play Campion College tomorrow on the practice wicket.

Tough all-rounder Etienne Botes and left-arm spinner Clarence Campbell are also in the mix for Horouta, whose opponents have players on the rise.

Campion keeper Liam Spring made 43 in a 116-run opening stand with player-coach Mark Naden (71) against GBHS last season. Boys' High had won the first two of the three Hope Cup clashes with Campion in 2019-2020, but in that 63-run win to the college their young talent — Spring, all-rounder Blake Marshall and talented Year 9 outswing bowler Hamish Swann — took centre stage.

For both clubs, the fixture has added significance.

“We'll spend bit of time before the game explaining to new players about the trophy we play for between Campion and Horouta, in honour of Vaughan Thompson,” Naden said.

“Then we'll play as he did — hard but fair — with a whole lot of fun thrown in.”

Campion all-rounder Darryl Dunn is in doubt with a back injury but the game should be a good contest.Ranasinghe is a wrecker of bad bowling, but Marshall with the new cherry is no easy prospect. He has good pace and Horouta would be making a big mistake were they to try to drop the ball and run on him.

Rawhiti Legal Old Boys Rugby go in as favourites against a very young GBHS second 11.

GBHS hasn't fielded a second 11 since Peter Stewart's side finished their season early, and have one adult cricketer in Deevon Gray playing with them on No.3 tomorrow. Boys' High feature promising seamers Daniel Watts, Adam Situ, Noah Torrance-Cribb, David Gray and Bekko Page. If Dylan Foster bowls six overs, he could take at least two wickets and the side will have a father-and-son combination at the top of their batting order.

OBR, however, last year had experienced players of the likes of Ian Loffler and Craig Christophers in their ranks: former men's senior representatives. They also brought capable players relatively new to the game — such as tall paceman Rongomai Smith — through last season.

Umpires Gary Coutts (Ngatapa v HSOB), and Martin Bennett and James Raroa (Horouta v Campion College) will all stand in Round 1 of the Hope Cup.