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Three in row against rivals

CRICKET

Victory over High School Old Boys by five wickets is like nectar to OBR.

The Senior B club cricket competition leaders made it three wins in a row against their traditional rivals on Saturday.

Two weeks out from the Hope Cup semifinals, unbeaten Rawhiti Legal Old Boys Rugby lead the competition with 36 points. Following them are Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps on 27, Bollywood High School Old Boys Presidents and Siteworx Horouta on 18, Campion College on 9 and Gisborne Boys' High School (2) on 0.

OBR beat HSOB by 27 runs in Round 2, the difference in the rematch on December 12 was two runs.

On Saturday, three seasoned seam bowlers played decisive roles in the outcome.

Presidents wicketkeeper-captain Ollie Needham won the toss on the Harry Barker Reserve's smallest ground, the practice wicket, but were restricted to 149-9 in 30 overs.

OBR spearhead Lloyd van Zyl (2-22), the bustling Amit Vyas (1-25) and left-armer George Reynolds (1-16) all denied the HSOB batsmen width in their six-over spells.

The trio conceded only six boundaries in 18 overs.

Opener Needham found the fence seven times in his 50 off 67 balls but No.6 Anil Kumar and Yegan Lanka — 10th man to bat and not out — were Presidents' next best with 16.

Although HSOB missed a class strokemaker in Glen Udall — on premier duty — OBR, too, were without their regular skipper, the very capable Craig Christophers.

At this level, one innings of note, such as Needham's hard-fought knock and even, later in the match, the unbeaten 41 scored by OBR's MVP (most valuable player), second-drop Mana Taumaunu, is no guarantee of success.

Taumaunu came out with OBR at 62-3 after 8.4 overs (game-day captain, No.3 Jannie Jacobs, having fallen for 27), and shared a great stand of 72 with Matt Henwood (33 from No.5).

HSOB paceman Mahmood Ghaznavi (0-24 off three overs) can startle top-order batsmen with his great ability to swing the ball, yet left-hander Peter Stewart opened the batting for OBR and hit him for three fours in the second over of the OBR innings, which cost 15. Two overs later, Ghaznavi's new-ball partner Billy Stackhouse (1-20 off three overs) went for 16, Jacobs taking heavy toll with three boundaries.

Kumar (1-25) and Lanka (1-29) both bowled six overs, while Nathan Quimpo (1-14 off two) and Matt Jefferd (1-2 off one) were the other HSOB wicket-takers.

The Henwood-Taumaunu partnership dealt with the bad ball in muscular fashion. Nick Armour bowled his first three overs for only seven runs. That his fourth over, the 22nd, cost 11 is a testament to the watchfulness as much as the target-sense of the OBR batsmen: the first three balls of the over were dot-balls, the fifth went for four, the last for six.

The HSOB total of 149 was a mid-range score and they tried hard to defend it.

Jacobs said: “Our fielding was of a high standard. Mana ran out HSOB first-drop Jeff Chambers for seven. Still, 150 is a tricky target. Chasing, we lost three wickets in the first 10 overs but after Matt Jefferd held a great catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Matt Henwood, Mana stuck to his guns and got us home.

“It was nice also to have two dedicated umpires, in Jason Trowill and James Raroa, who were very consistent.”

HSOB MVP Needham was happy with the effort from HSOB in all three facets of play, against a team who have won 12 games straight.

“OBR's bowlers were economical,” Needham said.

“That was an up-and-down contest. We were in the hunt, but their fourth-wicket partnership was the winning of it. Mana and Matt batted without risk to take the game away from us.”

Mel Knight has good reason to be pleased. Before Saturday's match between her Horouta crew and Gisborne Boys' High School (2), the captain of The Waka made it known that she wanted players who hadn't made runs lately to contribute in Round 12.

Her 72 not out off 85 balls from No.3, and club stalwart and second-drop Greg Taylor's 34 saw Horouta through to a winning score of 154-5.

GBHS reached 129-9 in 30 overs.

Knight chose to bat first on a wicket, Harry Barker No.4, that assisted those who put the ball on the spot.

Swing bowlers Daniel Watts (2-11 off five overs), Noah Torrance-Cribb (1-33 off six) and Bekko Page (none for 11 off three) held The Waka to 32-3 after 10 overs.

GBHS captain Dylan Foster took no wickets for 32 runs off six overs but bowled his good leg-breaks as well as he has all season.

On debut, left-arm orthodox spinner Riker Rolls (2-33) bowled six overs. Rolls, 13, kept the ball up to the bat while operating around the wicket and is an excellent prospect. He bowled Taylor and Grace Kuil with the second and third balls of the 26th over.

The willingness of Taylor and Knight to dig in during the course of a 104-run partnership for the third wicket was just what Horouta needed at the time.

In the GBHS innings, three bowlers shone for The Waka — left-arm orthodox spinner Clarence Campbell (3-17), seamer Piumal Madasanka (3-24) and Northern Districts under-19 representative Grace Levy (2-11).

Campbell's curve and loop and Madasanka's line notwithstanding, Levy was Horouta's best. It was her outswing and magnificent change of pace that flummoxed opener Watts (7) and Lukas Fry (18 off 35, seventh man in). Levy bowled both with a superb slower ball.

For Boys' High, the batting highlight of the game was MVP Kelan Bryant's innings of 55 off 53 balls, with six fours, from No.3. It was 14-year-old Bryant's second half-century this season. He scored 62 from No.5 against Ngatapa before Christmas.

He is tall, a natural timer of the ball able to clear the rope. His 26-run stand for the fourth wicket with No.5 George Gillies (2 off 23) and 25-run partnership with Fry for the sixth wicket saw the score advance from 33 to 59 and from 67 to 92. Fry and Page at No.8 put on 33 as a pair, the total moving from 92 to 125.

Fry, 15, has yet to make a 50 in senior club cricket, but he — like Bryant — has overcome injury this season to return in good form and make an impact. Left-arm speedster Fry took 2-10 off three overs in the previous weekend's David and Goliath showdown with OBR.

Of the game, Horouta MVP Knight said: “We had to work to post a total in the second half of our innings and were on top in the first 10 overs of the Boys' High innings. Run-rate pressure probably played a part in GBHS losing wickets to Clarrie and Grace Levy.”

Dylan Foster knows that his team have only once this season (against Ngatapa in Round 4) come closer to victory than they did at the weekend.

“We've definitely improved,” he said.

“The game could have gone either way, as we restricted Horouta to a score that was chasable. Kelan played a fabulous innings, Lukas was good too, but we need more than one batsman to make a real contribution.”

Variety is the spice of life and the secret of Ngatapa's success with the ball.

Just as competition leaders OBR have the slippery van Zyl, skilful left-armer Reynolds and whippy Vyas, the Ngatapa Green Caps have youngster Ryan West, a hulking leftie of their own in Will Faulks and off-spinner Grant Walsh, who — once upon a time — bowled as good an outswinger as any of the above.

He still employs it to great effect as a wicket-taking delivery, and the Patutahi-based team have other weapons besides, such as captain and sometime seamer Mike Gibson, who made a superb 58 from No.5 at the expense of HSOB the Saturday before their latest win against Campion College.

The Caps beat a Campion team without their player-coach Mark Naden by seven wickets on Harry Barker No.3, Campion skipper Liam Spring having won the toss and chosen to bat.

Campion, who in previous encounters with Ngatapa this season had made 109 and 183, would be disappointed to be all out for 59 in 24.2 overs, but that speaks to the quality and depth of the Green Caps' bowling attack.

Faulks took 4-8 off five overs, MVP West grabbed 3-6 off four and Walsh 2-6 off 5.2.

Year 9 student and Campion MVP Reuben Swanepoel, who scored 242 runs (average 121, high score an unbeaten 70, from No.1) for his Poverty Bay age-group side in January, led Campion's scorers with 15, batting at No.8.

Spring faced the first ball of the match and made 12 as the college's only other batsman to score in double figures.

Ngatapa reached 63-3 in 9.4 overs to win the game, Gibson (18no off 13, from No.5) and keeper-craftsman Simon Wilson (5no) batting together when the bell tolled.

First-change swing bowler Hamish Swann (2-16 off three overs) and Rhys Grogan (1-24 off two), who took the new ball, both showed skill and heart.

fOCUS ON TECHNIQUE: Kelan Bryant practises the pull shot in the nets at Harry Barker Reserve. Bryant hit 55 runs off 53 balls for Gisborne Boys’ High School (2) against Horouta on Saturday. Horouta won by 25 runs.File picture by Paul Rickard