Three teams had remained unbeaten heading into today’s midway mark of the round robin, but only Christchurch’s St Albans emerged unscathed by the end of a brutal third day of the 2019 NZCT National Club Cricket Championship.
Defending champions Napier Technical Old Boys suffered their first loss of the week at the hands of the “Saints”, bowled out just 27 runs shy of chasing down their target of 291.
The “Texans” had earlier done well to restrict the “Saints” to 290 on the smallest of the Cornwall Cricket Club grounds, bowling them out in the 46th over after St Albans had elected to bat. New Zealand Under-19s rep Todd Watson produced a good double for the Napier club with 4-40 off eight overs backed up by 35 with the bat. Central Stag Kieran Noema-Barnett got off the mark with a boundary first ball but would not add to his tally after Jack Harper struck a big blow next over.
Player-coach Jesse Ryder made his first appearance at the crease at the 2019 tournament, but his wicket, after having cruised to 45 let the Saints right back into the game. Earlier, St Albans opening batsmen Dan Sharples (53) and Greg Dawson (50) had got the Saints off to a solid start with a 106-run opening partnership, with useful late contributions from Harper (42) and Ben Langrope (42) in what proved to be a winning team effort with bat and ball.
In the closest match of the round on the Number One oval, Dunedin’s Green Island suffered their first loss of the tournament as former champions Eastern Suburbs (Wellington) chalked up a much-needed first win to keep them in with a chance of making Sunday’s 1v2 Final.
Easts claimed the tense victory by just 10 runs after taking Green Island’s final wicket in the 47th over.
Mark Joyce top-scored for Green Island in their chase with just 57, while Christi Viljoen’s fighting 45 kept them in with a shout before he was bowled by off-spinner Michael Bracewell with 44 runs still required for victory.
The tail fell away, young Easts off-spinner Jed Wiggins collecting 3-35 off his 10. Earlier, Southland spinner Jack Mockford had pocketed 4-28 off just 7.2 overs for Green Island as they restricted Easts to 171, allrounder Jamie Gibson top-scoring with just 39.
Auckland representatives Parnell also got a much-needed first win on the board in the third of the five rounds (before the seeded Finals day on Sunday) after defeating Tauranga’s Greerton by 132 runs on the Number Two oval.
After Parnell captain Brad Rodden won the toss and batted, they put a solid 307 on the board, Rodden himself leading the way as he top-scored with 75. With contributions of 61 and 57 from Auckland Aces Ben Horne and Anikhet Parikh, it was Parnell’s best effort yet despite being bowled out with two deliveries to spare.
Henry Collier claimed 4-44 for Greerton, whose batsmen got off to hesitant start in reply – Parnell pacemen Ollie Pringle (an economical 2-16) and Henry King (3-48) proving a handful in a disciplined all-round attack.
Greerton remains the only side yet to get a win as all the teams head into the last two days of the round robin, all competing for a ranking that will determine the make-up of Sunday’s 1v2, 3v4 and 5v6 Finals.