Cricket: T20 comp going down to the wire

By Barry Leabourn

The second piece of Bay of Plenty cricket silverware will be presented at Ferguson Park on Saturday afternoon, after the final stages of Lone Star Twenty20 title have been fought out.

The early afternoon games (12pm start) will see the contenders for the Baywide Twenty20 title decided, with four teams in a position to qualify for the final.

If competition leaders Element IMF Cadets and defending champions Tauranga Boys' College both win their last qualifying encounter, they will battle out the final - however, if one or both fall at the last hurdle, Eves Realty Greerton and Mount Maunganui are lurking ready to pounce.

The real decider is likely to be the clash on the grass on Ferguson three, between Cadets and arch-rivals Mount Maunganui. The two share a rivalry in all forms of the game that goes back a number of decades, with the Williams Cup clash between the pair last weekend testifying to that.

Mount Maunganui chased down Cadets' total of 208 with just two wickets to spare.

While both sides will have key players on Bay of Plenty representative duty, the two heroes from last week's encounter, will be playing at Ferguson Park. Ben Christensen smashed his second century of the second half of the season, reaching 116 before being dismissed. Mount Maunganui's Ben Guild, who top scored with a match-winning 75, has been in good form in recent weeks and is arguably one of the most improved batsmen in Baywide cricket this season.

Tauranga Boys' College will earn the right to defend their title if they can get past East Bay United. The key to a Tauranga Boys' victory is player/coach Mark Orchard, who has been on fire with the bat in the Williams Cup. The Boys College mentor has scored 450 runs in just six games with a top score of 121 not out.

However, the Eastern Bay side has a couple of match-winners in their own ranks. Alex Yates is capable of changing a game in a few overs with the boundaries under siege, while strike bowler Joel Mathews has taken 25 wickets in Baywide cricket this season and is capable of changing a game with the ball.

While Williams Cup competition leaders Te Puke are out of contention in the Twenty20 title race, they are capable of raining on Greerton's parade. Greerton's way to the final is firstly to defeat Te Puke, then have Cadets eliminate Mount Maunganui and for Tauranga Boys' to also taste defeat.

BOPCA Lone Star (Premier) T20:

Round Seven (12pm): Tauranga Boys College v East Bay United, Ferguson1; Eves Realty Greerton v Te Puke, Ferguson2; BOP Indians v Central, Ferguson4; Cadets v Mount Maunganui, Ferguson3.

Playoffs (3.30pm).

Lone Star T20 Points (Win, 2 points)

Cadets 10, Tauranga Boys College 9, Greerton 8, Mount Maunganui 8, Central 6, Te Puke 5, BOP Indians 2, East Bay Utd 0.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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