The Air Chathams Wanganui team might want to think about just playing all their representative games on Sundays.
After the fightback to save the draw on the second day against Hawke's Bay in the Furlong Cup match a fortnight ago, Wanganui went back to Nelson Park in Napier at the weekend for the three days of 50-over matches in the Chapple Cup.
After getting big hidings from eventual winners Taranaki and rarely-played Nelson on Friday and Saturday respectively, the team avoided the wooden spoon with a confidence-boosting four-wicket victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti on Sunday.
It is the first victory under the captain-coaching era of Charlie Hartley and perhaps was the best example of his mantra of trying to get the players to perform in their specialist roles.
With allrounder Ross Kinnerley unavailable for the Friday game due to work commitments, the young side struggled to pin down a fairly seasoned Taranaki top order, with openers Jesse Vertongen (32) and Dean Robinson (33) laying a solid platform, before Shaun Sullivan locked down one end with 104 from 112 balls, striking 11 boundaries and a six.
Liam Muggeridge supported him with a well-compiled 50.
"Our fielding wasn't the best on day one, dropped a few catches," said Wanganui's John McIlraith.
"Before you know it, they were just humming along."
Sullivan and Muggeridge's 104-run partnership freed up Kaylum Boshier to have a crack, smacking 37 from 23 balls including three sixes, and although Wanganui took five wickets in the final 10 overs, the damage was done at 286-7.
Youngster Ben Kelt had solid figures with just 39 taken from his 10 overs, while Collegiate schoolmate Angus Dinwiddie copped a whacking, but got all three key wickets in Muggeridge, Sullivan and Boshier to finish with 3-49 from an eventful six overs.
In reply, Wanganui struggled as Taranaki put their bowling nemesis Ryan Watson at one end and a spinner at the other, with openers Sam Sherriff and Thomas Walshe still trying to find their feet at this level.
Despite a few cameos through the order, Wanganui were dismissed between 190-200.
"The run rate kept building up and we kept losing wickets too often," said McIlraith.
Even though Kinnerley made his way over on Saturday, things got worse before they got better as Wanganui took on a strong Nelson team, who they only face occasionally and just at Chapple Cup, and they were hammered by 131 runs after the South Island team ran up a fearsome 358-8.
"We played on the ground with the smallest boundary and we didn't hit our marks," said McIlraith.
"We fielded better, but their openers did well and then that guy [Patrick Howes] was just blazing."
Tom Ingham (59) and a J O'Connor (40) had more than 70 on the board before the end of the ninth over, with David Zhorab (43) then holding up his end as Howes strolled out.
The left-hander proceeded to blitz an outstanding 143 from 97 balls, smashing Wanganui to all points with 15 boundaries and seven sixes.
Howes would bat with his entire lower order, a couple of whom chipped in scores in the teens, before he finally gave a catch back to the bowler Dinwiddie with three balls remaining.
All seven Wanganui bowlers had pretty rough figures, with Chris Sharrock bowling through after eventually catching up with a couple of the runaway top order to finish with 4-64 from his 10 overs.
In reply, openers Sheriff and Walshe, and No3 Akhil Kumar, were gone again within three overs, both Sherriff and Kumar in the first over, before Dominic Lock (49) tried to repair some of the damage.
Bowler Sam Baxendine (4-32) ran right through the top order, then Howes bowled Lock and neither Hartley or McIlraith could stick around as Wanganui slumped to 92-6 in less than 14 overs.
However, there was a fight in the tail as Akash Gill (35), Kinnerley (42), Kelt (26), Sharrock (30) and Dinwiddie (12 not out) collectively were scoring at better than a run a ball, which included hitting seven shots over the boundary rope.
But eventually they would all play a shot too many, as Nelson took their catches with bowler David Zhorab (2-42) a recipient to have Wanganui out of there in less than 33 overs, when ironically they were nearly matching the required run rate.
And so to Sunday and the fight to avoid the wooden spoon, and finally, some of what Hartley has been trying to impart began to sink in.
While having to bowl first again and with experienced opener Jamie Pinfold (53) settling in, this time Wanganui was preventing big partnerships, with Kelt (4-30) and Gill (4-39) excellent at the top of the innings, getting Pinfold's fellow batsmen in Dion Sanson and Matt Good out cheaply.
Bailey Te Tomo (18) and Andre Halbert (25) tried turn the tide, but fell to Kelt and Kinnerley, as Lock had a great match behind the wicket with three catches and a stumping.
From 142-6, Wanganui looked for the killer blow, but experienced Horowhenua-Kapiti allrounder Carter Andrews (55) rescued his team and carried them through until the final over, before becoming Kelt's fourth victim in a still defendable 228.
Wanganui's faith in Sherriff was finally rewarded, as for the first time, Wanganui did not lose a wicket in the opening over, with the young man shoring up his end with a crucial 53 from 80 balls.
"He played a really good knock, real mature for his age," said McIlraith.
Walshe hung in for seven overs before his dismissal, and Wanganui would have liked Kumar (16) and Lock (24 from 25 balls) to have set themselves further before Andrews (2-37) turned the momentum back his team's way.
Hartley (22) joined Sherriff and had a partnership going before they too fell in the space of four overs, leaving Gill (27) and Kinnerley (36 not out) to try and carry the side through.
A miscommunication between the two Watson's Tech clubmates saw Gill run out, leaving the match delicately poised at 177-6 in the 41st over.
Enter McIlraith, who likes to play an attacking game, and was now close enough to the target with a bit of support behind him in Kelt and Sharrock to have a go.
"We only needed 55 off 10 overs, so [run rate] was still under six," he said.
"Charlie told me, however many overs are left, take that many balls to get yourself set, so I took 10 balls.
"Just got a couple away early, and then used the wind."
McIlraith (33 not out from 23 balls) lined up Sanson and Zac Benton to hit four boundaries and a six, while Kinnerley also had his eye in and hit three more to the boundary, following his own six.
The pair put on 53 runs in less than six overs, making what was looking like a tight finish end up being a canter.
McIlraith put it down to being a team innings, as Sherriff did a job at the top which others could follow on.
"We weren't three-for, for not much," he said.
"It was the first time we didn't lose a wicket in the first over."
Wanganui will hope to take that confidence into their next Furlong Cup game at home against Manawatu on December 1.
Taranaki went on to win the Chapple Cup, upsetting Hawke's Bay by five wickets in the final.
Taranaki 286-7 (S Sullivan 104, L Muggeridge 50, K Boshier 37, D Robinson 33, J Vertongen 32; A Dinwiddie 3-49) bt Wanganui 190-200 (Scoreboard not available).
Nelson 358-8 (P Howes 143, T Ingham 59, D Zohrab 46, J O'Connor 40; C Sharrock 4-64, A Gill 2-75) bt Wanganui 227 (D Lock 49, R Kinnerley 42, A Gill 37, C Sharrock 30, B Kelt 26; S Baxendine 4-32, D Zohrab 2-42) by 131 runs.
Horowhenua-Kapiti 228 (C Andrews 55, J Pinfold 53, A Halbert 25; B Kelt 4-32, A Gill 4-39, R Kinnerley 2-69) lost to Wanganui 230-6 (S Sherriff 53, R Kinnerley 36no, J McIlraith 33no, D Lock 24, C Hartley 22, A Gill 21; C Andrews 2-37, D Sanson 2-47) by four wickets.