The Northern Spirit cricket team were put through a painful magic show over the weekend, losing their 50-over double-header against the Canterbury Magicians in Northland.
Playing at Whangārei's Cobham Oval, the northerners were beaten convincingly by their southern visitors with an 84-run margin. Batting first, Canterbury were 236 all out with one ball remaining in their innings.
Two of Northland's premier cricket exports, Makayla Templeton and Olivia Lobb, featured for the Spirit in both games. Lobb, a wicketkeeper, snared one catch while the legspinning Templeton picked up one wicket for 24 runs from her four overs.
In reply, the Spirit were hit hard by opening bowler Jacinta Savage, who took a six-wicket haul as the chief destroyer of the home side's batters. Lobb compiled a well-earned 32 batting at six, while Templeton amassed a patient 15 off 47 balls.
Their efforts were in vain as the Spirit fell for 152 in the 39th over.
Sunday's contest was a much closer one, with Canterbury again batting first. The visitors, batting almost the entirety of their 50 overs once again, scored 249 all out. Lobb bagged a brace of catches, while Templeton was wicketless from her four overs.
At 143 for no loss, the Spirit were cruising towards a comfortable victory. However, the combined efforts of Savage, Sarah Asmussen and Gabby Sullivan saw the home side lose all 10 wickets for 71 runs - finishing on 214.
Templeton managed 11 runs while Lobb only made one - both were removed by Savage.
The Spirit play their next Hallyburton Johnstone Shield fixtures against the Auckland Hearts on December 19 and 20 in Auckland.
Fortunately, Northland's premier men's T20 team is experiencing much better results at the Brian Dunning 20-over competition in Taupō.
Named after a famed Northland and New Zealand cricketer, the annual Northern Districts fixture is a meaningful one for Northland's short-form cricketers.
After a disappointing last-place finish in 2018, the Northlanders avenged their predecessors and won the 2019 edition with batters Ollie White and Henry Cooper scoring centuries - the first hundreds for Northland in a representative T20 fixture.
Without both at this year's competition, Northland faced an uphill battle to defend their crown. However, their campaign started in great fashion with a four-wicket win over Northern Districts Representative on Sunday.
Bowling first, Northland squeezed their opponents well through spinners Chris Page and David Armitt and skippering seamer Ben Hyde. Page picked up three wickets, while Armitt and Hyde snared braces as NDR managed just 119 for 8 from their 20 overs.
Despite a few early wickets, Northland settled into their batting innings and chased down the total with two balls to spare. Thorn Parkes, Hyde and Page all scored in the 30s.
However, the Northland boys were treated to a batting clinic against Hamilton yesterday, when Tai Tokerau stalwart Neal Parlane smashed his way to Northland's third and highest T20 century - 113 from 60 balls, including eleven 4s and six 6s.
With support from Page, who scored 36, Parlane led the side to a mammoth 207 for 6 from 20 overs.
Northland, with ball in hand, never looked in any serious trouble with their opponents reaching 167 for 6, gifting the northerners a 40-run win. Hyde and Armitt were economical in their four overs each, picking up three wickets between them.
Northland played Bay of Plenty late yesterday before taking on Counties Manukau and Waikato Valley today in what appeared to be a hopeful defence of their 2019 title.