Grassroots sport: Master blaster may hold key


Cricket

Master blaster batsman Alex Yates could be the key for East Bay United to secure a semifinal berth in this year's Williams Cup.

Yates and his team take on the might of Tauranga Boys' College at Nicholson Field, Tauranga, tomorrow.

The hard-hitting batsman has been in dynamic form, blasting more than 500 runs so far this season. He is backed up by a strong bowling line-up with teammates Joel Mathews and Dean Butterworth sitting in the top 10 in the Cup's bowling stats.

United lurk just six points behind Tauranga Boys and a win would see the visitors progress to the semis next weekend. However, United come up against a side who are brimming with confidence and will fancy their chances playing at home.

Tauranga have an outstanding record in this tournament in recent seasons. The side won the tournament in 2009 and were runners-up last year to Mount Maunganui.

They also posses one of the most promising wicketkeepers in the Bay, with keeper Alex Oakley having made his Bay of Plenty senior representative debut this year.

Another game with plenty to play for is the encounter at the Tauranga Domain between Cadets and Greerton. While both sides have already booked semifinal berths - at stake is a home venue for next weekend's semifinals.

In other Baywide matches the Mount should cement their home semi when they take on Central in Rotorua, with Te Puke facing Bay of Plenty Indians at Te Puke Domain.

With the weather conspiring to ruin last weekend's Lonestar Tauranga and Rotorua Twenty20, the qualifying games are to be played over the next two weekends.

On Sunday, the key match-up in the qualifying competition will see Cadets and Mount Maunganui square off at the neutral venue of the Bay of Plenty Cricket Oval. At stake for the winner is a place in the final to be played on Saturday, March 31, at the Bay Oval.

Te Puke and Greerton will also play their last round Twenty20 game on Sunday. The Indians and Central will play their T20 match on the following Saturday, as both will not be involved in the Williams Cup playoffs - with Tauranga Boys College and East Bay United likely to fit there match in some time in the next two weeks.

Williams Cup draw for tomorrow: Element IMF Cadets v Eves Realty Greerton, Tauranga Domain; iTCo Central v Platinum Pacific Reclad Mount Maunganui, Smallbone Park; Tauranga Boys College v East Bay United, Nicholson Field; Te Puke v BOP Indians, Te Puke Domain.

Williams Cup points: Cadets 30, Mount Maunganui 30, Greerton 24, Tauranga Boys College 24, East Bay United 18, Te Puke 12, Central 6, BOP Indians 0.

Lonestar Tauranga and Rotorua Twenty 20 draw for March 11: Element IMF Cadets v Platinum Pacific Reclad Mount Maunganui, BOP Cricket Oval; Eves Realty Greerton v Te Puke - venue tba.

Lonestar T20 points: Tauranga Boys College 10, Cadets 8, Central 8, Mount Maunganui 8, Greerton 6, Te Puke 6, East Bay United 2, BOP Indians 0.

Football

Ngongotaha look to kick off their season when they take on Melville United tomorrow.

The Rotorua side was delayed by a week from starting the season after its game was abandoned due to the weather bomb which hit the county last weekend.

Ngongotaha make the move up to division one this year after sweeping aside all before them in the division two competition last year.

There is plenty of excitement from within the club as the team brings through an number of young and exciting players.

Rotorua United will be favoured to register their second win in the Federation pre-season cup when they meet division two side Katikati at Neil Hunt Park tomorrow.

United coach Neil Rush will ring the changes to give all players the chance to claim a first team spot but they should still have too much class for Katikati.

In other games, Whakatane Town host Tauranga City and Te Awamutu are at home against West Hamilton.

Cricket

The time-honoured Attrill Cup will take centre stage on Sunday when current holders Rotorua take on an Eastern Bay of Plenty representative team.

The Attrill Cup, which is contested by the Bay of Plenty sub-associations, is understood to date back to the early 1930s.

Last season the cup changed hands on two occasions.

In the first challenge, East Bay United took the trophy from a combined Te Puke and Mount Maunganui representative team. The following weekend Rotorua won the long-time Bay of Plenty Cricket trophy defeating the Eastern Bay representatives.

After spending the winter at the Rotorua Cricket headquarters at Smallbone Park, the Rotorua side will put the Attrill Cup on the line at Smallbone Park on Sunday.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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