A match shortened to 39 overs did Riverview Motel Whanganui no favours in chasing down Marlborough's first innings target in their opening game in the Chapple Cup cricket competition in Levin last weekend.
Due to a flight delay, half of the Marlborough side were held up and the match on Friday was shortened to a 39 over contest on a flat wicket at Donnelly Park.
Marlborough started steadily and only lost their second wicket at 126 at the end of the 27th over. From there, wickets fell regularly with some good outfield catches combined with some steady bowling.
While being a little expensive, Ross Kinnerley took three wickets. Connor O'Leary was probably the pick of the bowlers with 2-30. Both Joel Clarke and Hadleigh O'Leary were economical.
Marlborough's innings was anchored by Tarin Mason who scored a patient 58 from 87 balls. They ended their 39 overs at 204/7, a solid score but one that should have been achievable with a controlled chase by the Whanganui batsman.
The Whanganui top order were immediately put under pressure as the Marlborough opening bowlers hit good lengths and were supported by enthusiastic catching and fielding.
Despite most of the batsmen making starts, Whanganui soon found themselves at 75/6.
Captain Ben Smith remained at the crease and despite nursing a knee injury was looking comfortable and simply needed some support.
Chris Sharrock provided that with 27 to push the score through to 141 before Smith fell for 55.
Sharrock, followed soon after and with the side eight wickets down needing a further 60 off the last six overs the hopes of victory were slim.
However, Joel Clarke (26 not out off 21) and Fraser Kinnerley (24 not out off 17 balls) had other ideas. They both played cleverly and then aggressively to push their side to the brink of victory.
Whanganui needed six from the last ball to win the match, but couldn't quite achieve it and Marlborough won the match by 4 runs.
This was a solid first effort by the bowlers, but a rusty top order batting performance. The side showed a lot of grit to take the game to the wire and almost pull off an unlikely victory.
On Saturday Whanganui played hosts Horowhenua-Kapiti, who are an ambitious province with an impressive indoor winter facility, backed up by good playing facilities and administration.
Whanganui won the toss and batted with a damp outfield in cool, overcast and very windy conditions.
Whanganui lost Max Carroll early but recovered with two positive partnerships involving Mark Fraser, Ben Smith and Sam Sheriff.
At 149/3 in the 35th over a total in excess of 250 should have been achievable. However, over the next 10 overs the innings lost momentum which inevitably led to wickets as incoming batsmen felt the pressure to attack prematurely.
In the end it required another attacking cameo from Kinnerley to get the side through to 223/7.
While respectable, the total appeared to be below par on a flat wicket offering little bounce or sideways movement for the bowlers.
Sam Sherriff scored a fluent 87 and was robbed of a deserved century by a moment's lack of concentration.
In their chase, Horowhenua lost their first wicket at 25, but then the powerful Chad Law (90 not out) and Dylan Reder (101 off 99 balls) took the game away from a Whanganui side who were struggling in the fierce winds.
Reder survived a simple catch in his early 30s before nicking the next ball straight to where first slip, who had just been taken out, would have been. Perhaps realising this was his day, Reder put those game changing moments behind him and proceeded to dominate the Whanganui attack with aggressive batting.
Horowhenua Kapiti won the game comfortably by eight wickets with seven overs to spare. Joel Clarke was the pick of the bowlers with 10 economical overs.
The side moved across to Manawatu for two T20 matches on Sunday.
However, the poor weather also decided to move across there and the games were cancelled due to persistent rain.
The Whanganui players will need to put in more hours of personal training if they want to compete with these Central Districts unions.
It was clear that most of the sides have been practising regularly throughout winter in their respective indoor training facilities.
In contrast, the vast majority of the Whanganui side have played a handful of games between them and don't currently have the opportunity to use an indoor facility over winter to hone their skills.
The Whanganui cricket community continue to cross their fingers at the prospect of the new indoor cricket facility at Whanganui's Springvale Sport Stadium. It is hoped this will be a reality for cricketers of all abilities to use over winter next year.
Whanganui now face the prospect of travelling to Hawke's Bay on December 5/6 to play the traditionally strong team that was unexpectedly beaten by Nelson in the Chapple Cup final.