Two old warhorses, Jesse Ryder and Bronson Meehan, have become the architects in helping their Napier Technical Old Boys book flights to Auckland to defend their crown as the best premier men's club in New Zealand.
Player/coach Ryder and former Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay representative Meehan showed little mercy to oppositions in the Central Districts region qualifying finals in Palmerston North with centuries a piece yesterday and handsome contributions today.
"The boys are pretty ecstatic, watching the reaction because I wasn't on when we were won because I popped my calf again, so it was pretty pleasing to watch that sort of pride in the team but also the number of supporters we had here too was really astonishing," said Meehan of the Liam Rukuwai-led red machine tonight.
The Innovative Electrical NTOB side had to toil against hosts Palmerston North Marist CC in the final for a 44-run victory today after a walk across Fitzherbert Park yesterday with a 171-run result.
Ryder, at No 4, scored 77 runs from 86 balls while Meehan added 38 runs to the collective after No 2 Christian Leopard posted 42 runs for what appeared to be a modest 229/7 total today.
The former Black Caps batsman scored eight fours and a six at a strike rate of 89.6.
"Jesse's obviously a freak and he's incredible at what he does but, I think, just relying on your experiences is important because we've all played for our Tech side and at the higher levels so you can draw on that to get you through those rough patches," said of the 34-year-old linchpin from Napier who lost his CD contract this summer.
"That's what Jess and I did because we knew if we set it up for the last 10 overs our batting is very destructive so we didn't need to go too early and just leave it to the end to smash 100 runs just like that," he said.
The 29-year-old, who is a teacher at Maraekakaho School and whose charges had high expectations of him this weekend because he coaches the year 7-8 mixed gender cricket team, gave a shout out.
"They all knew I was going to play down here this weekend and we have a big cricket sign in school so they'll be keen so I'll surely be sharing my successes tomorrow with them which will be exciting," said Meehan who is an ardent Tech man who seldom ever isn't available when the premier men send out an SOS.
As clichéd as it sounded, the Texans contributed collectively today and Meehan had suspected the total was going to be a tall order for Marist considering the champion Napier side's bowling attack.
"We don't rely on one person to pick so many wickets so if a guy doesn't turn up he's not going to bowl and he'll be taken off."
Opening bowler Connor Morris was Marist's pick with 3-39 from nine overs, including two maidens. Hugh Symes took 2-45 and unwanted opening seamer Navin Patel took 1-44 but it was Arana Noema-Barnett, whose Stags brother Kieran plays for NTOB, was the most frugal with 1-28 from 10, including a maiden.
In their run chase, Marist had several 20-something starts, including those from brothers Floyd na Nagara and Whetu na Nagara as well as Noema-Barnett, but no batsmen carried on to forge any meaningful partnerships to make NTOB sweat.
Right-arm medium/fast Todd Watson took 3-45 while Stags allrounder Leopard and Bay rep left-arm spinner Jayden Lennox collected two each while Meehan and Kieran Noema-Barnett claimed one each.
Meehan said the scoreboard reflected a one-sided battle yesterday in the walloping of Ballance Agri-Nutrients New Plymouth Old Boys CC but it wasn't a cake walk by any yardstick.
"The conditions were a lot different today," he said. The wicket was slow and sticky and held up the ball.
Yesterday, Ryder and Meehan had put on a don't-argue fend with their willows.
The pair helped post a daunting 307/4 in their allotted 50 overs after the opposition won the toss and chose to shine the ball.
Ryder carved up 134 runs from 121 balls, including 19 boundaries and two sixes, at No 4 while Meehan, at No 5, forged a formidable partnership with an unbeaten 111 from 155 deliveries, including nine fours and five sixes.
Right-arm medium pacer Kyle Pillay was the pick of New Plymouth OB bowlers, claiming 3-50 from his 10 overs, including two maidens.
In reply, New Plymouth OB could muster 136 before they were skittled in 31.2 overs.
Opening batsman Jackson Braddock-Pajo provided some hope with 38 runs but only No 7 Ross Bryans came to the party with an unbeaten 40 runs.
The Texans got the biggest traction from Watson, at first change, who finished with 3-22 from six overs while Lennox, at second change, also chimed in with 3-21 from 5.2 overs, including two maidens.
Leopard and Rukuwai claimed two wickets each.