Returning players bolster United

By Jared Smith, jared.smith@wanganuichronicle.co.nz


The welcome return of men from across the sea has bolstered Wanganui United's ranks as the Premier1 one-day champions facing a daunting challenge from their Taranaki counterparts today.

New Plymouth Marist United, who finished third in the national club finals last season, wrapped up a rare third-successive Taranaki premier one-day title on December 8.

The contrast is stark in the two side's recent game time.

Marist United thumped Woodleigh by 156-runs in the final playoff at Pukekura Park, while Wanganui United settled for a default win over Collegiate to conclude their competition as there was no one-day final here in 2012.

However, United's Max Carroll insists the lack of high-pressure finals cricket has not hurt his side in the build up to today's game.

"Knowing there wasn't going to be a final in the club competition, we couldn't leave it to chance we went out to win every game.

"This is going to be a different level, pretty tough, but we're ready for it.

"We've got the full lineup, minus Andrew McCaa who is out of town for a wedding."

At Victoria Park, Wanganui United welcomes back Travis Bartels and Robbie Power from their OE's to England.

Bartels will bring a bit of pace to a bowling attack that is not rapid, but can be quite handy if they can get their deliveries in the right channels.

Power, who bats and bowls, will have to cover McCaa's role in the team.

Wanganui United will be captained by either Andrew Cording or Gerard Hobbs in McCaa's absence.

Carroll, who last Sunday dug his toes in for three tough hours in the Wanganui representative team's all-day fight against Manawatu in the Hawke Cup, said holding onto wickets will be crucial.

Batsman Tom Lance looms as a key hope able to put up a big score if he gets himself in and stays there.

"We're looking forward to it, we've got a lot of old heads in the team," said Carroll.

Two weeks ago, Marist United looked in ominous nick against Woodleigh. Reaching 289-9 off their 50 overs, five Marist bowlers picked up a pair of wickets as they put Woodleigh down for 133.

Allrounders Ryan Watson (71), Ethan Bolstad (51) and Jarred Cunningham (49) were in fine touch in the middle order, to go with their bowling scalps.

However Wanganui United's own allrounder batch were in good form during their last hit out together the seven wicket win over Saracens on December 8.

Brendan Walker claimed three wickets and finished 77 not out, while Hobbs took a pair and made 67.

The winner of today's game will go on to play in the Central Districts tournament in Palmerston North, joining three other winners in the association's zone.

The tournament winner will represent Central Districts at April's national club finals in Auckland.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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