Cricket: Unbeaten sides can stretch gap over rest

The two unbeaten teams in the Williams Cup title race look to have the opportunity to open a gap on the chasing sides tomorrow.

Te Puke, who last won the Williams Cup nearly a decade ago in the 2003/04 season, have returned to the form that saw them test the best in Baywide cricket in previous decades. Te Puke mentor Peter Swan has moulded a team who have genuine firepower with bat and ball.

For this weekend's match-up with (Rotorua) Central, in-form batsman Mitch McCann will be away on Bay of Plenty Hawke Cup duty, but skipper Tai Bridgeman-Raison has been in outstanding form, posting nearly 300 runs with a top score of 107 not out.

Another to make his mark in the Baywide season is Jeremy Bates, who can now be classed as a genuine all rounder, after first making his mark as a bowler. A highest score of 134 not out and 22 wickets, suggest he will be a key player as Te Puke seek to continue their unbeaten run at the Te Puke Domain.

While Central languish near the bottom of the Williams Cup standings, they have three quality batsmen who, if they all fire together, would trouble any team in the competition.

Captain Peter Wood, with Julian Danby and Jason Trembath, earned selection in the Bay Development team that played two games over Auckland Anniversary weekend.

They also have the services of medium pace bowler Andrew Gibbs, who has played for the Bay of Plenty first and second elevens.

While Element IMF Cadets will be without Joe Carter, Jono Boult and Sean Davey, who are playing for the Bay in their Hawke Cup defence against Manawatu, they will still have a relatively strong line-up against BOP Indians.

However, the Rotorua side will be seriously inconvenienced without outstanding batsman Bharat Popli who is also on Bay duty.

Defending champions Eves Realty Greerton must beat East Bay United in Whakatane, to keep their title hopes on track.

Both sides are in equal third with Mount Maunganui, so the team who emerge with the win points from the match will take a solid step towards securing a semifinal berth.

Mount Maunganui are in a similar scenario to the East Bay and Greerton and must beat Tauranga Boys' College to cement a top four place. Tauranga Boys' made a statement last week chasing down BOP Indians total of 207 for the loss of a solitary wicket, so the encounter is likely to be a close-run affair.

Williams Cup draw, February 9:

BOP Indians v Element IMF Cadets, Smallbone Park; East Bay United v Eves Realty Greerton, Rex Morpeth Park; Mount Maunganui v Tauranga Boys College, Blake1; Te Puke v Central, Te Puke Domain.

Williams Cup points table:

Te Puke 27, Cadets 25, Mount Maunganui 15, Greerton 15, East Bay United 15, Central 9, Tauranga Boys College 9, BOP Indians 3.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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