Property Brokers United have made their third Coastal Challenge Cup final in four years after proving they were a team for the big match occasion, beating Tech Old Boys by 94 runs in their derby semifinal at Victoria Park this afternoon.
Having upended the second qualifier, United will now travel again to Donnelly Park to meet table leaders Levin Old Boys, who were likewise dominant over debut semifinalists Red Star – picking up a 103 run win to make the final for the first time since the inaugural cup competition in 2015-16.
The Victoria Park semifinal was moved over to the No3 field, which proved deceptively inviting as the outfield ran very quick to the boundary, but first you had to play the shot well enough off a challenging pitch.
Alex Kayser (44) and Tom Lance (24) took advantage early, with Lance hitting five boundaries in 17 balls, to have United travelling at six-an-over until Ross Kinnerley (3-45) got Lance to give up a snick behind to skipper Dominic Lock.
While Kayser looked to anchor but also survive against a solid Tech pace attack, Gerrard Hobbs lost his stumps to Fraser Kinnerley (2-42), as Greg Smith (32) and then Chris Sharrock (27) looked to lift their side, again with fours being the main scoring shots, before being caught out by the Kinnerley's.
As well as their four representative pace bowlers, Tech used Siddh Lad for a full compliment of overs, and he got Brendon Walker early, while Vikum Sanjaya (2-65) finally dismissed Kayser at the end of the 39th over.
At 165-6, Tech wanted to press their advantage, but for the second game in a row, John Beale (42 not out from 34 balls) delivered under pressure – sharing in crucial partnerships with skipper Simon Badger (36) and Robbie Power in the final overs, before Ross Kinnerley and Sanjaya caught up with them.
Badger and Beale struck the only sixes of the innings, as well as three boundaries each, as their side recovered to a defendable 243-8.
In their previous derby wins over Whanganui clubs in Coastal Challenge, Tech relied on Sanjaya to get them away to a lightning start from which they then played more conservatively to reach their run targets.
So it was no surprise United were whooping loud after Beale (2-17) got the former Sri Lankan T20 international to play the ball straight to Walker for 6-1 in the opening over.
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Beale then put a yorker through Kashish Nauhria and Tech were in big trouble when Bevan Hunter gave up a nick to wicketkeeper Stephen Holloway off Badger at 13-3.
Representative players Sam Sherriff (27) and Akash Gill (53) then looked to pull their side out of the nose dive, Gill having been the consistent form player in Whanganui across all formats this summer.
Despite United appealing for anything that hit a pad or foot, Sherriff stroked six boundaries through the gaps, as United brought on their spinners, with run rate not a problem at 50-3 in the 12th over.
However, Sherriff tried to swat Sharrock (3-36) away and spooned up a catch to Hobbs, and then Lock had to go after giving up an edge behind off Ritesh Verma right before the drinks break, the skipper sharing a few words with United players as he departed.
Lad (15) had been a saviour for Tech before this summer, but not from this far away, as Gill looked to step up as the senior partner, but would find every time he ran singles it would take a while to get the strike back.
After sweeping Sharrock to the boundary, Lad tried to give himself room again but missed a delivery that caught the top of the stumps, while the very next ball, Stephen Botha feathered another edge behind to Holloway.
That left Sharrock stranded on his hat-trick, as the wickets came with the last two balls of his 10 overs.
At 95-7, Tech still had batting to come in the form of the Kinnerley's, while Quinn Mailman quickly launched Tom Lance (2-26) for a boundary, while Gill was still striking the ball well.
However, like Lad, Mailman tried to give himself room and lost his stumps to Lance, with Fraser Kinnerley (16) coming in ahead of his brother, who was not feeling well.
With the run rate climbing at 113-8, United moved fielders back to the boundary, looking to trap Kinnerley or Gill into a big hit, knowing they could sacrifice singles.
Gill kept going, raising his 50 off 59 balls, but lost Kinnerley when Lance pitched it up and got the LBW call in his favour.
With nothing left to lose, Gill looked to slog Power over the boundary, but gave up a catch to Verma on the rope to send United to Levin.
Skipper Badger was pleased that in challenging conditions and circumstances, the whole squad had delivered, with several key batting innings and every bowler taking a scalp, backed up with fairly sharp fielding.
"As you say, a team effort.
"John Beale has been a real find for us this season. His 40-odd was needed, and he had a good opening spell."
It gives United yet another chance to complete unfinished business, as they have made the Coastal playoffs more than any other Whanganui team, but have yet to win the title, previously losing two finals and a semifinal to Paraparaumu.
"We went there [to Levin] last week and won, so on that got to be reasonably confident, although our record in finals is not good," said Badger.
"You know what they say. You got to lose a couple of finals before you can win one."
In the minor playoff games, Wanganui Vet Services Marist could not string together a full XI after the departure of their university-based players, defaulting their away game to Kapiti Old Boys.
Having missed the championship semifinals for the first time in Coastal Challenge, Paraparaumu bowled well at the crux of their game against bitter rivals Weraroa, winning by 54 runs.
Levin Old Boys 298-8 (K MacLachlan 84, B Te Tomo 83, J Pinfold 31, R Taylor 27, M Good 24; S Hook 4-57, P Sigvertsen 3-44) bt Red Star 195 (B Price 70, C Freeman 24, J Jonas 21, P Sigvertsen 20; R Taylor 4-43, J O'Brien 3-27, L Pinfold 2-34) by 103 runs.
United 243-8 (A Kayser 44, J Beale 42no, S Badger 36, G Smith 32, C Sharrock 27, T Lance 24; R Kinnerley 3-45, F Kinnerley 2-42, V Sanjaya 2-65) bt Tech Old Boys 149 (A Gill 53, S Sherriff 27; C Sharrock 3-36, J Beale 2-17, T Lance 2-26) by 94 runs.
Paraparaumu 239 (T Lambert 40, J Bohmer 36no, S Windle 35, D McNamara 24, K Fahey 20; N Singh 3-38, L Spring 2-30, A Simonsen 2-50) bt Weraroa 185 (B de Burgh 57, A Simonsen 40, C McAleese 24; J Keats 6-25) by 54 runs.
Kapiti Old Boys bt Marist by default.