Wanganui Vet Services Marist got horribly caught in the concertina wire rather than slipping under it after three heavy losses in at the Central Districts finals of the National Club Championship (NCC) in Palmerston North this weekend.
Facing the other local NCC qualifiers from Manawatu, Hawke's Bay and Nelson in a Twenty20 round robin format, Marist had hoped they may be able to trip up one or two of their more fancied opponents.
But right from the opening match on Saturday morning they were under the pump at Fitzherbert Park, as home side Palmerston North United ran up a big 200-5, led by rep batsman Mason Hughes launching into 117 not out off 61 balls, including 12 boundaries and five sixes.
His main support was Tom O'Connor (35 from 27) in their 96-run partnership, as the other United batsmen came in and just had to get Hughes the strike, while Logan McHardy (14 from 16) had a cameo near the end.
Nick Harding and Connor O'Leary both took 1-28 off their maximum four overs for reasonable T20 figures, while Angus Dinwiddie was very expensive although he picked up two scalps at 2-50.
In reply, Marist was laid waste for 88 in the 17th over in a heavy 112 run loss.
With opener Dominic Rayner gone for a duck and Nick Harding (13) not able to get going how he wanted, Marist's best chance was the partnership between Chris Stewart (23 from 19) and Mark Fraser (23 from 22), but the run rate kept climbing and after their dismissal, the middle order fell apart.
Braden Rowe (3-7), Ben O'Connor (3-8) and Felix Murray (2-15) all reaped the rewards for tight bowling on their home pitch.
Marist probably thought they would have more chance in the afternoon against the longest travelling side in Stoke-Nayland, but going into bat their innings of 111-8 was looking like it wouldn't be enough.
In a bit of trouble at 41-3 in the eighth over, Marist got starts from Stewart (17) and Fraser (12) again, while this time Hamish Harding (23) and Hadleigh O'Leary (15) batted better.
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But the wickets kept falling at steady intervals, Marist managing to clear 110 thanks to Connor O'Leary (12no) hitting a couple of boundaries in the final over.
Patrick Howes (3-23) and Dylan Eginton (2-31) had the most success, but several of the Stoke-Nayland bowlers were economical.
The total proved not nearly enough to defend, as Stoke-Nayland raced to 112-3 after 13 overs for the seven wicket win.
Despite losing an early wicket, the Nelson team had their ship righted by Chris Dittmer (26) and Howes (18), who were both dismissed by Nick Harding (2-16).
Then enter Brendan Hodgson, who smashed 52 not out off 24 balls, including six boundaries and two sixes, as part of a rapid 56-run partnership with Rick Edwards, who with seven not out was a happy spectator at the other end.
Now out of contention for the final, Marist were playing for pride yesterday morning in their last match with heavy tournament favourites Napier Tech, and the indignation only got worse as they were slaughtered by 174 runs.
Batting first, Marist's bowlers were decimated by Matt Edmondson (174 not out from 70), who shared an opening stand of 61 with another virtual spectator in Craig O'Findlay (7).
Edmondson, who had scored 200 against the Wanganui representative side in Furlong Cup, was then joined by an equally ruthless Christian Leopard (113 from 44) to share in a 235-run partnership that lasted from the fifth over until two balls from the end of the innings.
Jesse Ryder came out for one delivery, probably very impatient to have a go as he watched Edmondson and Leopard plaster the ball to all points in an innings that reached 301-2.
Edmondson struck 29 boundaries and four sixes, while Leopard was a more modest 10 boundaries, but with eight sixes.
All seven Marist bowlers suffered horribly, no one managing a run rate under 11, while Rayner and Hadleigh O'Leary's combined 18 balls went for 65 runs.
Out of contention before they even started, Marist did not try to chase but instead looked to avoid being bowled out, finishing on 127-3.
Facing a bowling attack with plenty of Hawke's Bay talent, Stewart (45 off 60) and Fraser (54no off 44) could console themselves with personal milestones, but Tech were probably content with the stress-free approach as they were already thinking about the afternoon final.
They would duly go on to win the tournament to head to the NCC finals at Auckland's Cornwell Cricket Club, after a nine wicket victory over PN United.
Tech restricted United to 122-9 and reached the target in just 12 overs, again with Edmondson and Leopard raising their bats for 50's.
PN United 200-5 (M Hughes 117no, T O'Connor 35; A Dinwiddie 2-50) bt Marist 88 (C Stewart 23, M Fraser 23; B Rowe 3-7, B O'Connor 3-8, F Murray 2-15) by 112 runs.
Marist 111-8 (H Harding 23, C Stewart 17, H O'Leary 15; Patrick Howes 3-23, D Eginton 2-31) lost to Stoke-Nayland 112-3 (B Hodgson 52no, C Dittmer 26, P Howes 18; N Harding 2-16) by seven wickets.
Napier Technical 301-2 (M Edmondson 174no, C Leopard 113) bt Marist 127-3 (M Fraser 54no, C Stewart 45, N Harding 16) by 174 runs.