Still hunting for their first Coastal Challenge Cup, Property Brokers United can attribute most of their disappointments from the last five seasons to bogey team Paraparaumu CC.
Having lost to the Horowhenua-Kapiti club in the previous three years of playoffs, while having a couple of rain outs in pool games, it was on Saturday that United put together a solid team effort to pick up the first win over their tormentors since the 2016-17 season.
The 54-run victory on a low batting strip at Victoria Park leaves United in third spot on the points table, but with two more games in hand on leader Levin Old Boys and the just-vanquished Paraparaumu.
Levin was able to move clear on top of the standings from their fellow Horowhenua-Kapiti club, after some composed play in the finals overs of both their bowling and batting saw them take a three-wicket win over an undermanned Wanganui Vet Services Marist, across on the neighbouring pitch at Victoria Park.
In the derby game of the round, Tech Old Boys welcomed back their Unreal Grass Wicket Wanganui players to pick up a four wicket win over Whanganui Collegiate 1st XI in a fairly short match at the school grounds.
United openers Trey Bidois (42) and Gerard Hobbs (19) had United away to a swift start with a 30-run partnership in the first six overs, before Kamal Patel (2-32) pulled it back by inducing catches from Hobbs and in-form returning Wanganui batsman Greg Smith.
The ever-patient Matt Simes (66 not out from 121 balls) then combined with Bidois to knuckle down for a 72-run partnership over the next 19 overs on a hot day in the field.
It wasn't quick going, but it was keeping wickets in hand for the final 20 overs, and when Bidois was finally caught behind, Paraparaumu had nearly used up some of their strongest bowlers and the United veterans in the middle order were ready to chance their arm.
Ryan Slight and Brendon Walker came and went to have United a little concerned at 129-5, but then Simon Badger (52 from 51) came in for a captain's knock – combining with the stonewall Simes to bat out the last 15 overs – right up until being bowled having a go at the final delivery.
Badger hit seven boundaries and the only six of the innings to make sure his side went comfortably past the 200-run mark.
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In reply, Paraparaumu were looking to their ace in the hole in opening batsman Ajay Kumar, who it seemed would make the run chase a doddle by going on the offensive - smashing 63 in just 22 balls.
With opening partner Byron Gill virtually a spectator, Kumar slammed five shots to the boundary and six more over it, as Badger copped some fearsome stick before Slight (2-31) mercifully got one through the defence to Kumar's stumps.
Still, at 72-1 in just the sixth over, Paraparaumu could take a slow-and-steady approach the rest of the way if they desired, even when Gill was out off the beleaguered Badger, as skipper Kelsey Fahey (24 off 26) had his team up over the 100-run mark by the 12th over.
Ritesh Verma had also been very expensive off his sole over, so United changed tact to their slow bowlers and found the breakthrough.
Crafty spinner Robbie Power (5-28) bowled Fahey and while James Logan (13) and Jono Griffith (14) were slowly working the ball around, Logan's dismissal exposed the middle order and a sensational collapse.
Power ran through them, taking two wickets in the 22nd over to leave Paraparaumu rocked at 122-6, and although veteran Nigel Harvey (11) tried to hold the line with Griffith, he became Power's 5-for off a nick behind.
Chris Sharrock (2-9) then cleaned up the tail, finally getting Griffith, after surviving 65 deliveries, and then adding Dale McNamara in the same over, before Slight returned to also get a pair by bowling Travis Harry in the 36th over.
After such a rocketing start, the visitors lost their last eight wickets for just 77 runs.
Levin Old Boys turned in a clutch performance over defending champions Marist, who were without a handful of key players, a couple of whom found attending the Wanganui Cup races a little more alluring.
Marist experimented with moving Wanganui bowler Connor O'Leary up to opener with fellow rep Chris Stewart (62), and although it didn't exactly work, the home side carried on as Zac O'Keefe (35 from 29) came in to go on the attack before being bowled by Ryan Taylor (2-33).
Marist planned that Mark Fraser and Hamish Harding in the middle order would follow from O'Keefe's lead with Stewart still anchoring, but both fell just as they reached double figures, leaving the home side at 118-4 halfway through the innings.
Hadleigh O'Leary (32) and Craig Thorpe (14) did the recovery work after Stewart finally fell, and at 188-6 had wickets in hand for the slog with Levin looking to Jacob O'Brien (2-32) and Dion Sanson (3-21) to hold the line for the final overs.
O'Brien and Sanson delivered, as Marist's lower order all got out swinging, with Sanson picking up two caught-and-bowled dismissals, the second one on Nigel Erwin a little contentious as it appeared the umpire might signal a bump ball, before awarding the dismissal for Erwin to eventually leave.
Still, 210 could be defended, as was being proved next door, and the O'Leary's combined to reduce Levin to 27-2 in the sixth over, with Connor O'Leary (5-35) bringing his strong form back from Chapple Cup.
Chad Law (65) led the recovery with Taylor (28 from 25), as Levin move towards the target but lost wickets throughout, while O'Keefe gave away only 24 runs from his ten overs of spin.
Campbell Martin (29) and Keegan MacLachlan (18) stayed with Law for a time, the match being delicately poised at 152-6 in the 35th over.
But the O'Leary's and O'Keefe were bowling out, leaving Thomas Redpath and Thorpe with overs remaining, and just like he did in the bowling, O'Brien (21 not out) delivered at the end of the innings.
He saw off Connor O'Leary's final over, where he got his 5-for by finally removing Law, and from 199-7, Levin signed off the match swiftly as Daniel Parker came in to hit two boundaries to reach the target in the 46th over.
Tech stayed in touch with the Top 4 after their second win of the season, beating Collegiate in a match where 16 wickets for 279 runs in just over 64 overs in total.
Despite Sam Sheriff (41) being back in some form at the top of the order, Collegiate are entering that awkward summer phase where some good student-players are not always available, and they had collapsed to 84-7 by the time Sheriff was bowled by Akash Gill (6-27), who ran through the top order.
Andrew Brunt (22) had stayed with Sheriff for a while, but then it was Collegiate's coach Warren Herbert (42 not out) who showed his charges how it's done, looking to protect the strike.
However, he would be stranded short of a half century as Tech's bowlers including Wanganui player-coach Vikum Sanjaya (2-41) eventually caught up with the tailenders to end the innings at 139 in the 39th over.
Sanjaya (16) looked to get on with it at opener for Tech, but Adam Beard (2-19) pulled back the chase with a couple of wickets, before Fraser Kinnerley (27) and Akhil Kumar (52 off 47) had the run chase cruising along.
Kumar waited for his shots to strike eight boundaries and a six.
However, Sheriff (4-33) wasn't giving up, as in an exciting five over spell he took some hits but also had Tech giving up catches – reducing them to 117-6 before Gill (10 not out) and Wanganui captain Dominic Lock (12 not out) ticked off the winning runs by the 26th over.
In the other matches, Kapiti Old Boys picked up their first win of the season with a 149 run victory over Weraroa, while Red Star claimed the Wairarapa derby game over Lansdowne CC by 59 runs.
United 214-6 (M Simes 66no, S Badger 52, T Bidois 42; K Patel 2-32) bt Paraparaumu 160 (A Kumar 63, K Fahey 24; R Power 5-28, C Sharrock 2-9, R Slight 2-31) by 54 runs.
Marist 210 (C Stewart 62, Z O'Keefe 35, H O'Leary 32; D Sanson 3-21, J O'Brien 2-32, R Taylor 2-33) lost to Levin Old Boys 211-7 (C Law 65, C Martin 29, R Taylor 28, J O'Brien 21no; C O'Leary 5-35) by three wickets.
Collegiate 139 (W Herbert 42no, S Sheriff 41, A Brunt 22; A Gill 6-27, V Sanjaya 2-41) lost to Tech 140-6 (A Kumar 52, F Kinnerley 27; S Sheriff 4-33, A Beard 2-19).
Kapiti Old Boys 226 (J Miles 85, C Andrews 68, Z Benton 28; J Dawson 4-37, C McAleese 3-11, D Williams 3-30) bt Weraroa 77 (J Nicholls 30, C Trask 23; C Andrews 6-13, D Schlup 3-20) by 149 runs.
Red Star 202-6 (S Hook 103no, A Sprowson 23; J Ryan 4-49, S Patel 2-15) bt Lansdowne 143 (J Young 46, J Ryan 35, N Chaney 22; S Hook 3-1, Q Childs 3-32, P Sigvertsen 2-31) by 59 runs.