There was a downward change in fortune for a couple of the Whanganui teams as Horowhenua-Kapiti's best two clubs reasserted themselves on top of the Bullocks Coastal Challenge points table in Saturday's last round before the holiday break.
In the top of the table clash at Victoria Park, Levin Old Boys made a statement with their second straight away win, hammering Watson's Tech by 93 runs.
It was all going well for Wanganui Veterinary Services Marist, who in addition to picking up a new naming sponsor, had a short afternoon of play and then plenty of time to soak up the sun with a bevy in hand after their quick six wicket disposal of Red Star at the park.
However, despite their third win on the trot, Marist had to cede their place in the Top 4 to town mates Property Brokers United, who snuck home by three wickets against Kapiti Old Boys down at Paraparaumu Domain, overtaking Marist on run rate.
Now in the school holidays, Collegiate 1st XI were undermanned for their away game against Weraroa at their domain, with even coach Warren Herbert having a bat in the eight wicket loss.
It was a nightmare start for Red Star as Nick Harding (3-22) was back for Marist and got a wicket in the opening over, and would have three wickets in his first two overs before he even gave up a run.
Opener Nathan Elliott (14) struck a couple of good hits in his eight deliveries, but every other top order batsman was caught out for a duck, with Marist's Angus Dinwiddie (3-28) reaping the rewards at the other end.
Laid waste at 16-5 in the seventh over, Red Star had to claw just to reach double figures, with Luke Dingle (32) hitting five boundaries as he batted with most of the lower order.
Sam O'Leary (2-10) eventually picked Dingle up, and Red Star only got to 116 in the 28th over thanks to a final wicket stand of 27 by the Wootton's – Patrick and Grant (19 not out).
Although Marist lost Chris Stewart early when he pushed at a wide ball off Jay Watt and was caught, while Michael O'Leary hit a couple of boundaries over the top before getting trapped in front.
That brought out in-form Zak O'Keefe (27) and Dominic Rayner (42), the latter surviving a dropped catch hit straight up in the air to strike six boundaries, while O'Keefe had five as he scored at better than a run a ball before chipping a delivery back to bowler George Deans.
Rayner drove, lifted, and cut the ball around the park to have Marist sailing at 90-3 around the 18th over, while John McIlraith (21 not out) took the time to play himself in.
Rayner missed his half century when he got a good dirt-tracking ball from spinner Grant Wootton, which took the stumps, but McIlraith now had his eye in and smashed Zachary Dewhurst for a boundary, six and a boundary in consecutive balls to wrap up proceedings in just the 22nd over.
Across the way, Tech seemed like they would keep their streak as the only unbeaten team going after a good start against Levin despite the absence of allrounders Akash Gill (Central Districts U19) and both Kinnerley's – Ross and Fraser.
Akhil Kumar (2-44) had early success and returning White Fern Jess Watkin (1-12) gave away hardly anything, with four maidens in her ten overs.
From 8-2, Ryan Taylor (75) dug in for Levin, batting through till the 41st over, and had initial support from Keegan MacLachlan (29).
However, Tech's Bevan Hunter (2-32) and Cameron Mackintosh (3-29) triggered another mini-collapse, with only Liam Pinfold (16) putting up some minor resistance, for Levin to slump to 167-9.
Tech were poised and needed a low score with some of their better batsmen away, but Daemon Kennett (26) and Fraser Bartholomew (13 not out) dug in and scored vital runs, batting right to the end of the innings with Kennett run out after the last ball and getting them team up over the 200 mark.
In reply, Hunter and Harkaran Mann (15) seemed to have Tech off to a solid start, but Bartholomew (5-39) and Kennett rode their high from the batting to have the openers and then Kumar and Tyler Lock in short order for 37-4, with Batholomew getting two wickets in the 10th over.
Without the regular middle order, Mackintosh (24) tried to manufacture momentum, with all of his scoring shots being fours, but after he and Tim Czerwonka put on a brisk 38-run partnership, they fell in a the space of two overs to spinner Dion Sanson (2-16) and medium pacer Jacob O'Brien (2-16).
O'Brien then bowled Quinn Mailman while Bartholomew came back to get skipper Dominic Lock, who was batting low in the order after injuring his thumb in the field.
From 98-8, Watkin (25 not out) figured there was no harm in chancing her arm, striking boundaries down the ground while also turning another off the square and hitting over the top.
However, Sanson trapped Peter Czerwonka in front and No11 Chris Friedel found 108 runs to chase for victory a little harder than less than ten from the previous games, although he could still find a grievance, upset at being given out LBW after being hit on the back of the pad for Bartholomew's five-for.
At Paraparaumu Domain, Wanganui United wanted a solid hit out before playing the Taranaki one-day champions in the NCC qualifier this coming weekend, but things got a little closer than they would have liked with 17 wickets falling for 252 runs total.
Losing wickets early, Kapiti crawled to 125 all out in the 46th over, with their best dig coming from Jayden Miles (33) along with a couple of cameos from the lower order.
Pick of the bowlers were Brendon Walker (3-35), Ryan Slight (2-19) and the returning Tom Lance with his spinners (2-13).
It seemed a straightforward chase, especially with United having Lance back as he opened with Simon Badger, but they were both gone at 12-2 in the fourth over.
Moved to No3, Matthew Boswell struck three boundaries in his run-a-ball 21, with Matthew Simes (13) helping him before being bowled, and then Aussie Josh Goleby seemed to be settling the matter with a quick-fire 34 from 23 balls, hitting four boundaries and two sixes.
However, all three of them were ripped through in short order as Kapiti came back through Carter Andrews (2-36) and Martin Harrison (3-18), and when Andre Canderle and Walker were both bowled, United were in big trouble at 92-7 in just the 19th over.
Fortunately, Zeb Small (14 not out) held up his end and the veteran Gerard Hobbs (21 not out) has seen this scenario many times before, and they survived the next eight overs while working the ball around, getting three boundaries to ease the pressure and set up the win.
At Weraroa Domain, the home side skittled a new-look Collegiate top order, including Air Chathams Wanganui players Kashish Nauhria and Joel Clark, to be 25-3.
Although representative player Sam Sheriff (20) and Hadleigh O'Leary (14) tried to halt the tide, they were also victims of LBW decisions.
Everyone of the Collegiate top order fell to a different bowler, with Carl Trask (3-20) adding Adam Lennox and Shaun O'Leary to his tally for ducks.
The coach Herbert (21) then came out and tried to carry the final batsmen through with him, but he was out in the 40th over with barely 100 on the board.
Weraroa had composure in their top order against the schoolboys, and although Adam Simonsen fell early to a catch off Lennox, skipper Matthew Good (37) just carried on with Blake De Burgh (43 not out), as Good hit eight boundaries in rapid order.
When Good swung one too many times and was bowled by Hadleigh O'Leary in the seventh over, Wereroa were still nearly halfway there, and Henry Dobson (22 not out) carried on five boundaries, while De Burgh hit six to the rope and one over it to end the match in less than 15 overs.
Collegiate still tried six bowlers in that time and only O'Leary didn't cop some stick.
In the other match, defending champions Paraparaumu shook off their narrow home loss to Tech to punish United CC by 150 runs at Kena Kena Park, moving back up to second spot on the table, behind Levin and ahead of Tech.
It is worth noting the Horowhenua-Kapiti teams have already played their ninth round matches against each other on October 13, meaning the Whanganui and Wairarapa sides have a game in hand.
However, both the winless Wairarapa clubs have struggled in their first year of Coastal Challenge, and United CC again travelled with only 10 players on Saturday.
The competition resumes on January 5 with all four Whanganui teams playing away from home.
Red Star 116 (L Dingle 32, G Wootton 19no; N Harding 3-22, A Dinwiddie 3-28, S O'Leary 2-10) lost to Marist 118-4 (D Rayner 42, Z O'Keefe 27, J McIlraith 21no) by six wickets.
Levin 210 (R Taylor 75, K MacLachlan 29, D Kennett 26; C Mackintosh 3-29, B Hunter 2-32, A Kumar 2-44) beat Tech 117 (J Watkin 25no, C Mackintosh 24; F Bartholomew 5-39, D Sanson 2-11, J O'Brien 2-16) by 93 runs.
Kapiti Old Boys 125 (J Miles 24, J Maxwell 22; B Walker 3-35, R Slight 2-19, T Lance 2-13) lost to Wanganui United 127-7 (J Goleby 34, G Hobbs 21no, M Boswell 21; M Harrison 3-18, C Andrews 2-36).
Paraparaumu 238-6 (J Ross 54, K Fahey 48, B Gill 24, J Logan 20no; L Burt 2-29, S Patel 2-48) beat United CC 88-9 all out (R Spears 25; J Bohmer 4-38, N Harvey 3-4, D Reder 2-20) by 150 runs.