An under-strength Riverview Motel Whanganui choked when hosting HighMark Homes Wairarapa last weekend in round 3 of the Furlong Cup.
Wairarapa proved far too strong, beating a hapless Whanganui by 10 wickets in the two-day fixture.
Wairarapa won the toss and asked Whanganui to bat. At 20/4 in the 8th over that decision was immediately justified. In slightly overcast conditions and through CD's fringe player Stefan Hook, the Whanganui batsmen simply could not cope with the extra pace and movement of Hook.
The Whanganui innings never gained momentum and they were always under pressure as wickets continued to fall with a mixture of injudicious shots and technical issues that were constantly being put under the microscope by all the Wairarapa bowlers, but in particular Hook.
Chris Sharrock continued his recent good form with a counter attacking 46 off 44 balls and William Hocquard denied the Wairarapa bowlers for 85 balls in scoring 19 on debut.
Hook ended with 6-35 off 19 overs and became Wairarapa's leading all-time wicket taker in the process. A final total of 146 meant Whanganui was then chasing the game for the next two days.
Whanganui had to start well with the ball to claw their way back into the match and Ross Kinnerley provided that by removing two players and restricting Wairarapa to 2-2. However, handy partnerships throughout saw Wairarapa pass the meagre Whanganui total only 5 wickets down.
Some excellent middle and lower-order batting saw the lead balloon as the Whanganui side tired in the humidity. The Wairarapa lower-order batsmen impressed with their solid technique and ability to put away any bad balls. No 6 John McKenzie scored 58, No 7 Jack Forrester 58, No 8 Patrick Gluck 56 and No 9 Gordon Reisima scored 46 to take Wairarapa to 319 all out and a comprehensive lead of 173 on the first innings. The wickets were shared around, but all of the Whanganui bowlers were guilty of offering boundary opportunities at least once an over.
Once again the Whanganui innings started poorly and the side was soon reduced to 61/5. This was effectively 61/7 as Andrew Penn had retired hurt on 21 and an injured Ross Kinnerley would only bat if required to save the side from an outright defeat.
As he had in Hawke's Bay, Max Carroll held the innings together with 60 from 97 balls reminding the side that the longer you bat the easier batting becomes. Chris Sharrock had another aggressive cameo with 36 off 21 balls and Ross Kinnerley also tried his hardest to save the game with 36 not out but it was all in vain.
Again Hook proved too much to handle and he added another 4 wickets to give him 10 for the match. Jaco Vorster also took 3-13 off 6 overs with his skiddy medium pacers. Whanganui was all out for 193 and a small lead which would at least require Wairarapa to bat a second time to knock off the 20 runs required.
A 10 wickets loss in a match that was expected to be much closer is a disappointing result for the Wanganui side. Player depth has been tested with injured and unavailable players meaning the side are struggling to compete at present.
The task gets even more difficult in two weeks when the side travel to Taranaki to play a side who will be motivated to gain revenge on a vulnerable Whanganui side on their home Pukekura Park track. The Whanganui side will need to regroup quickly and confirm their injury toll before this next fixture. The Coastal challenge competition continues this weekend, where two of the Whanganui sides are firmly in semi-final contention.