Tech Old Boys are back in the Coastal Challenge Cup semifinals for the first time in three seasons and Property Brokers United have made it for the fourth year in a row after clutch away wins on Saturday.
United showed excellent resolve in the final 10 overs of both their batting and bowling to hand top qualifier Levin Old Boys their first loss of the campaign with a 34 run win at Donnelly Park.
The victory made United safe and moved them into third place, setting up a Whanganui derby with Tech in one semifinal, while Levin were always going to finish in the top spot on bonus points and so will now play Red Star, who made history as the first Wairarapa Club to make the playoffs.
Red Star overtook the two-time cup winners Paraparaumu CC by virtue of thrashing them by 119 runs in Masterton, getting the necessary bonus point to join United in leapfrogging the Horowhenua-Kapiti club.
Tech showing composure to beat Weraroa on their own Domain by four wickets was part of a good day for the Whanganui sides, as the Collegiate 1st XI had their first success of the competition with a four wicket win over Kapiti Old Boys at the school grounds.
Wanganui Vet Services Marist, away in Palmerston North for the Central District finals of the National Club Championship, had already received a default victory over Landsdowne CC.
At Donnelly Park, United lost early wickets they could ill afford on a good batting strip, with Alex Kayser and Matt Simes gone quickly, before Greg Smith (31 from 26 balls) and Tom Lance (46 from 30) were in control.
However, while Levin gave up runs, they also took scalps through Fraser Bartholomew (3-42) and Dion Sanson (2-40), as United had lost Smith and Lance by the 18th over, handing the reins to Trey Bidois (38 from 31) and Chris Sharrock (51 from 57).
A big total was on the cards at 172-4 in just the 26th over, but Levin had Bidois caught behind and then chipped out United's veterans in Brendon Walker, Simon Badger and Ritesh Verma cheaply, with Sharrock finally being bowled as well.
At 221-9 after 37 overs, it seemed like Levin would give themselves a lot of bonus overs to overtake the total, but they hadn't counted on the final United pair of John Beale and Ryan Slight.
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Beale (43 not out from 55) and Slight (22 not out from 32) batted out the full 50 overs and took their side over the magic 300 mark in a priceless 81-run partnership, while Levin had a costly five-run penalty amongst their 36 extras, including Alex O'Malley's 16 wides.
Still, it looked like 303 to win wouldn't be a problem as despite Smith running out Jamie Pinfold in the fifth over, Levin stayed comfortably up with the run rate as Sanson (84 from 83) and supporter Bailey Te Tomo (57 from 81) put on a 109-run partnership in 19 overs.
United's pace bowlers had no luck, and even when Lance had Sanson caught out with his spinners, Levin just carried on with Matthew Good (41 from 53) to bring up the 200 with 15 overs remaining.
However, Lance refused to give up, and the inspired Beale (2-67) rejoined him as they dismissed the two set batsmen and then worked their way through a middle and lower order that collapsed under pressure.
Only Neil Hood (20 not out from 20) managed to get going somewhat, as Levin's run rate grew and grew with each dismissal – first by three Smith catches and then through Lance breaking the stumps twice, finishing with a match-winning 6-36.
Beale got Bartholomew (13) with two balls remaining, when all hope of a Levin victory was long gone.
Tech's win over Weraroa followed the same blueprint as their whole season – using the complete Unreal Grass Wicket Wanganui pace attack to get their opposition out cheaply, then sending slogger Vikum Sanjaya out to open for a whirlwind start, before pulling it back to ease their way to the target, with a few heart palpations for lost wickets.
It was both the Kinnerley brothers in Ross (3-30) and Fraser (3-32) to the fore as Tech pinned Weraroa down and dismissed them after 49 overs for less than 200, with Ross finally having better figures than his sibling in a 2019-20 club match.
Despite losing early wickets, Weraroa had been tracking alright while Locky Spring (33) and skipper Adam Simonsen (77 from 80) were at the crease, with Simonsen carrying on to bat with his lower order until being bowled by the in-form Akash Gill (2-43).
Hinds player Jessica Watkin (1-44) also bowled well, as only Cameron Prouting (26) contributed in Weraroa's lower order – the home side losing their last five wickets for 15 runs.
Sanjaya was the only Tech bowler to miss a scalp, but then smashed 44 off just 17 balls, including 10 boundaries, to have Tech well on their way at 64-1 in the eighth over.
Tech went through some stutters as a promoted Ross Kinnerley and fellow Wanganui rep Sam Sherriff were dismissed in single figures by Navjeet Singh (3-34), but surviving opener Kashish Nauhria (48) was determined to finally make his mark with the bat, as Gill (55no from 49) joined him for a 46-run partnership at nearly a run-a-ball.
Nauhria lost his stumps to Jaedyn Dawson in sight of a deserved 50, while previous match-winner Siddh Lad was a surprise duck dismissal to leave Tech a little nervous at 142-5.
Skipper Dominic Lock (14) joined the confident Gill to see it out, and despite giving up a catch at 171-6, a veteran like Bevan Hunter (12no) was not going to falter in supporting Gill, who struck consecutive boundaries to raise his 50 and then win the match.
It has been a tough season for Collegiate against the adult clubs, but they deserved their victory against Kapiti after coming back from the visitors big third wicket partnership to clean up the rest of the order, before putting together four key partnerships themselves to win with time to spare.
With the No1 wicket and outfield playing quicker than previously seen, Kapiti seemed to be cruising despite losing two quick wickets as Jayden Miles (106 from 124) continued his strong campaign, supported by Tom Blake (21) and then Grant Gunter (55).
At 189-2, Kapiti were on track for a massive total, but then George Pearce (5-24) stepped up with an excellent 7.2 over spell, having Miles caught out before he, Josh Allpress and a returning Shaun O'Leary (2-27) ran through the lower order in single figures, losing their last eight wickets for 44 runs.
In reply, Collegiate were in their own trouble at 14-2, before Daniel Burgess (22) was joined by Harry Godfrey (58) to pepper some very good pulls and drives around the ground.
At 89-2 with Godfrey looking great, Collegiate could sense that first win, but then Burgess and O'Leary mistimed their swings at Daniel Jefferies (2-52), and when Godfrey stepped out to hit Carter Andrews and got stumped, it seemed a familiar story at 126-5.
Former rep player Joel Clark was sent out with literal instructions to be a hero, and that's exactly what he did with 58 off 60 balls, hitting six boundaries and two sixes, as part of a decisive 75-run partnership with Carter Hobbs (41 from 40).
There were still a few nerves when Clark was dismissed at 201-6, but Hobbs had matters in hand, hitting a six to go with his three boundaries, as Kapiti would regret giving up 28 runs from wides in their 36 extras.
United 302-9 (C Sharrock 51, T Lance 46, J Beale 43no, T Bidois 38, G Smith 31, R Slight 22no; F Batholomew 3-42, D Sanson 2-40) bt Levin 268-9 (D Sanson 84, B Te Tomo 57, M Good 41, N Hood 20no; T Lance 6-36, J Beale 2-67) by 34 runs.
Weraroa 199 (A Simonsen 77, L Spring 33, C Prouting 26; R Kinnerley 3-30, F Kinnerley 3-32, A Gill 2-43) lost to Tech 202-6 (A Gill 55no, K Nauhria 48, V Sanjaya 44; N Singh 3-34) by four wickets.
Kapiti Old Boys 233-9 (J Miles 106, G Gunter 55, T Blake 21; G Pearce 5-24, S O'Leary 2-27) lost to Whanganui Collegiate 234-6 (H Godfrey 58, Joel Clark 58, C Hobbs 41no, D Burgess 22; D Jefferies 2-52) by four wickets.
Red Star 247-3 (J Jonas 84, B Price 73, R Anderson 44; D McNamara 2-61) bt Paraparaumu 128 (R Lorimer 42, S Windle 29; S Hook 3-19, B Price 2-22, J Osborne 2-27, P Sigvertsen 2-35) by 119 runs.
Marist bt Landsdowne by default.