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Horouta’s Hopes on line tomorrow


Tomorrow is D-Day for Horouta's Hope Cup campaign.

With the Senior B club cricket final only four weeks away, the Mel Knight-led Horouta and Ollie Needham's High School Old Boys' Presidents — teams three and four — both have 18 points with the Presidents leading The Waka by 0.255 on net run-rate. A third straight win against Horouta tomorrow and a third straight win over fifth-placed Campion College next weekend would book HSOB a spot in the 2 v 3 semifinal, to take on two-time defending champions Ngatapa.

If Siteworx Horouta fall to the Bollywood HSOB Presidents tomorrow, they will have to topple unbeaten competition leaders Rawhiti Legal Old Boys' Rugby (36pts) twice in two weeks — on the second occasion, in a 1 v 4 semi — to pull off the biggest upset in Hope Cup history.

“For us, tomorrow's the biggest game of the season,” said Knight, whose daughter, NZ under 19 representative Kayley, her Northern Districts u19 teammate Grace Levy and Piumal Madasanka will lead Horouta's pace attack.

“We also want to be positive in our batting and build partnerships, but beyond that, for everyone in the team to contribute something in the game and enjoy themselves.”

An off-spinner, Knight senior and left-arm orthodox spinner Clarence Campbell could also play a big role in the clash on Harry Barker Reserve ground four. HSOB 'keeper-captain Needham and Matt Jefferd are capable players of spin but the side's great strength lies in its seamers. Jefferd took 3-24 off four overs in the teams' first meeting on November 14 and Nick Armour 4-32 from six in Round 8, but on neither occasion was speedster Jason Lines in the HSOB line-up. He is playing tomorrow, and Needham is banking on his quicks to fire.

“Our bowlers, led by Jason and supported by Kyle Jean-Louis, Yegan Lanka and Anil Kumar, could be hard for Horouta to keep out if they are on song. For Horouta, Kayley will provide a stern test with her ability to hit good areas; their good spinners will test our footwork and batmanship.

“Batting well against this excellent attack will be a focus to get our guys in form, and prepare ourselves for the finals.”

OBR v Ngatapa will be more than a work-out.

While both teams have already qualified for the semi-finals in three weeks, the Civil Project Solutions Ngatapa Green Caps (27pts) are a better match for the Craig Christophers-led OBR than their previous meetings suggest. First time around, OBR's margin of victory was 31 runs (having bundled the Caps out for 96) and in the second, by six wickets after 'keeper Thom Berry crunched 82 from 76 balls with 11 boundaries.

Berry made an unbeaten half century in what was a wake-up call for the best team in Senior B cricket two weeks ago: they pipped HSOB by two runs. The standard of play across the grade has undoubtedly improved — HSOB began the season in horrific fashion on an artificial pitch at Nelson Park, bowled out by Ngatapa for 43 — and the Patutahi-based club have the experience and skills to test OBR to the full tomorrow.

They bowled superbly last Saturday, and while Will Faulks (4-8 in five overs), Ryan West (3-6 off four) and Grant Walsh (2-6 from 5.2 overs) are most unlikely to do to OBR what they did to Campion in Round 12, their attack has depth and variety. Big left-arm medium-pacers Faulks and George Reynolds (OBR) are among their respective clubs' greatest assets, but Christophers realises too that — with both outfits already assured of a semi-final berth — OBR can and should spread opportunities with both bat and ball around: “This game gives us a chance to give guys a go, allow them to build confidence, continue to build team spirit.”

Campion College want a fourth win for the season — Gisborne Boys' High School, just one.

And though they have Ngatapa on HBR3 next Saturday, the all-schoolboy derby tomorrow will have that fact as its point of interest, with both Campion and the GBHS second 11 looking to reward Challenge Cup cricketers with selection based on performance, attitude and loyalty.

Second 11 captain Dylan Foster (Life Guards, 38 not-out), Noah Torrance-Cribb (42), Bekko Page (36), their Blues and Royals skipper Kelan Bryant (22) and Daniel Watts (32, The Admiralty) all made runs on Wednesday and Bryant scored a very good 55 against Horouta last weekend.

Campion captain Liam Spring will be the most experienced player on HBR2 tomorrow. Spring and his fellow Year 13 Luke Hurlstone line up as the two old heads in a capable Campion crew whose Y10s, Hamish Swann and Rhys Grogan chief among them, are providing leadership by example to the college's junior arm.

Left-arm orthodox spinner Riker Rolls, GBHS' hero with the ball (2-33 v Horouta) on debut, is out injured but left-hander Jarrod Ormiston returns to the side. Both teams have young players keen to make their mark. The college beat GBHS by 48 runs in the first meeting in Round 13 and Boys' High defaulted to Campion on December 19 — the scene is set.