Birds get on the board

Central Stags 136-9 (Josh Clarkson 31, Tom Bruce 28, Logan van Beek 3-29, Hamish Bennett 3-22) lost to the Wellington Firebirds (Michael Bracewell 74, Devon Conway 44) by eight wickets at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

The Wellington Firebirds showed they were better than results so far this season with an eight wicket win over the Central Stags at Pukekura Park, thanks to a fine performance in the field, and a thrilling opening stand of 94 between Michael Bracewell and Devon Conway.

After the Stags lost Dane Cleaver (0) in the first over, and George Worker (8) soon after, it was left to Tom Bruce (28) and Josh Clarkson (31) to turn things around.

Logan van Beek celebrated his return to the field with 3-29, including the big wickets of Bruce and Worker – along with a typically committed performance from skipper Hamish Bennett (3-22), the Firebirds prevented the hosts getting the momentum they needed.

When they lost Willem Ludick at 101-6 in the 16th, the innings looked in dire straits, but Kieran Noema-Barnett (17*) and Dean Foxcroft (13) helped give the home team a total to defend.

In brilliant sunshine, in-form Firebirds openers Michael Bracewell and Devon Conway took time to get set on the Pukekura Park pitch, then put the foot down and kept it there.

Conway was severe on anything short and hit cleanly through the leg side, while Bracewell announced his intentions with a lap shot for six from Seth Rance.

The pair raced along at 8’s and 9’s an over until Conway edged Blair Tickner to Cleaver attempting to ramp one for four. Bracewell brought up his 50 shortly afterwards from 33 balls, and looked to end the chase fast with a series of booming sixes and fours.

Bracewell was trapped LBW by a Seth Rance yorker with just 10 runs needed for 74 from 42 balls, including eight sixes and two fours. It was left to Adam Hose and Malcolm Nofal to get the last few runs and the Wellingtonians across the line, with Hose hitting Noema-Barnett for four to finish the game.