A superb unbeaten century from Tauranga Boys' College captain/coach Mark Orchard set his team up for a memorable victory over Baywide heavyweights Element IMF Cadets at the Tauranga Domain on Saturday.
In a game where rain forced a break in play at the halfway stage, Tauranga Boys posted a respectable 201/6, with Orchard making 107 not out and the highly promising Tom MacRury hitting a mature 50.
James Birchall was the best of the Cadets bowlers, taking 3/28, with New Zealand Under-19 rep Sean Davey snaring two wickets.
Cadets were in early trouble against a fired-up Boys' College attack, losing their first two wickets with just two runs on the board.
NZ Under-19 opener Joe Carter steadied the ship with a well-played 40 off just 41 balls before Josh Evemy top scored with 67.
But any hopes of a win for the home side were dashed when Cadets lost their last four wickets for just 10 runs, to be bowled out well short of the target for 162.
The wickets were shared around with Orchard, MacRury, Henry Conway and Keaton Taylor taking two each.
Orchard's match-winning innings, which included 11 crisply struck boundaries, was his second century in Baywide cricket.
He was previously such a prolific batsman in Hamilton over 12 years that he can't recall exactly how many tons he has to his name.
But this one against Cadets is as satisfying as any because of the tough buildup to the match.
"We got knocked out of the Gillette Cup at home on Tuesday [by St Peter's, Cambridge] and so the boys were on a real downer after that," Orchard said.
"But this win puts us back in the hunt to win the Bay of Plenty competition pre-Christmas and I think we have every chance of winning it. Our game with the other top team Mount Maunganui was rained out, so we are in a good position and will give it a good crack."
Orchard was full of praise for Northern Districts under-18 allrounder MacRury, who stroked his fifth half century of the season so far.
"We lost a wicket second ball but Tom was good to bat with and they got extremely frustrated with not being able to get us out.
"Tom is the most committed of our players and often likes to talk cricket with me outside of class. He has a pitch in his backyard so lives for the game and hopefully he will go a long way."
Orchard decided to take over the captaincy this season to ensure all of his talented bowlers got a fair chance to shine.
"We have eight or nine players who want to bowl every Saturday so I try to use them when I can. I can see time in the game to bring them on and they are usually pretty effective when they get a chance, like against Cadets."
Over at Blake Park, the rain and at times misty conditions made ideal conditions for the seam bowlers, who dominated all but one batsman on display.
Mount Maunganui allrounder Daniel Hill smashed 80, his highest score in Baywide cricket, to play the major role in his side's 224/7 total against Attrill Cup partners Te Puke. Ben Guild made 42 and Russell Williams, 25. Jeremy Bates took 3/44 for Te Puke.
The juicy pitch soon caused issues for the Te Puke batsmen, as Hill and co had the ball nipping off the seam at will. Mike Jones finished with the best figures of 3/12, with Hill, veteran Steve Charman and Alex Gooding taking two wickets each.
Sean Gibson and Tai Bridgeman-Raison managed to get starts for Te Puke but it was mostly one-way traffic as they fell over for just 102.
Eves Realty Greerton's unlucky start to the season with weather continued in Rotorua as their match against Central was abandoned after heavy rain fell with Central at 90/4.
East Bay United ensured that the mid-afternoon rain that hit the Bay of Plenty wouldn't be a factor in their match against BOP Indians by bowling the Rotorua side out for 45, to ensure an early finish at Rex Morepeth Park in Whakatane.
Joel Mathews, who has been in good early season form, weaved his magic with the ball to take 5/22, while captain Dean Butterworth chimed in with a miserly 3/2 and Steven Ford took two wickets.
The BOP Indians bowlers made early inroads into the home team's chase for victory by taking three, but talented teenager Pip Thickpenny, who made the Bay Development team last season while still at secondary school, saw his team home to the small victory target with a quickfire innings of 26.