The South Otago 40›over finalists have been found after two contrasting semifinals.
The final in Tuapeka Mouth will be between the Valley Stingers and the Kai Kings.
In the first semifinal in Tuapeka Mouth, the Valley Stingers beat the Clutha Comets by seven wickets after Clutha was asked to bat by Valley and could muster only 114 runs, being bowled out in the 26th over.
Clutha’s top order failed to fire thanks to a superb opening spell of bowling which reduced Clutha to 24 runs for the loss of five wickets.
A sixth›wicket stand of 59 runs between Michael White and Kelan Smith restored some confidence.
Smith was then dismissed for a brisk 38 off 18 balls which resulted in another collapse and the Comets were dismissed with 15 overs left in the innings. White was left stranded on 45 while looking in good touch.
Richard Ray and Marc Phillips did the damage atthe top of the order for Valley, Phillips bowling particularly well. Chris Moffitt took the important wicket of Kelan Smith and mopped up the tail to record team›best figures of four for 24 from five overs.
In reply, the Stingers did not have it all their own way chasing such a meagre target. A solid opening stand of 36 between Daniel Cragg and Alex Campbell set a platform before both were dismissed in consecutive overs.
Valley lost another two wickets cheaply to be four down for 64 runs, but the experienced pair of Michael and Lachie Johnston saw the home side to victory before drinks. Michael Johnston was unbeaten on 39 off 43 balls while Lachie Johnston did not muck around and was not out on 22 off just the 11 deliveries.
Nick Manston finished with two for 44.
It was a disappointing finish to the season for the Comets. Their season comes to anend, but they have improved tenfold and are a real force in the competition. Valley will host the final next weekend in what will be their first trip to the big dance.
Valley Stingers 120/4 (Michael Johnston 39*, Lachie Johnston 22*; Nick Manston 2›44).
The Kai Kings will have the opportunity to defend their 40›over title after they defeated the Owaka Bandits by four wickets in their match in Owaka.
Owaka won the toss and elected to bat. After a positive start, the home side struggled through to 102 for the loss offive wickets at drinks.
A 103›run, sixth wicket partnership between Gordon Edwards and Matt Morahan took Owaka over the 200 mark before a swashbuckling finish from Edwards ensured the home side finished its 40 overs with a defendable total of 229.
Edwards was the star of the show for Owaka, scoring his second unbeaten century of the season as he finished on 119 off 109 deliveries, including 17fours and one six. Opening batter Jeremy Gray was the next›best contributor with 35.
Jason Young returned the best figures for Kai with three for 21 off seven overs. Ethan Gilder picked up two important top› order wickets to finish with two for 29 off six overs.
In reply, the Kings opening partnership of Orry Young and Blair Benington added 65 for the first wicket.
Young was dismissed for 37, caught behind off the bowling of Francis Parker. Benington continued to form key partnerships with William Casey
(29) and Mark Shepherd (31) before being dismissed for 56 with the score at 165 for three with just over 10 overs remaining.
Kai’s strong beginning ensured it looked on track throughout most of the innings but a strong second spell by Parker took the key wickets of Shepherd, Allan Thomson (27) and Jason Young (0) to leave Kai with some work to do.
The experienced Pat McKenna and Jack Dent combined well at the end to take Kai across the line with four balls remaining.
Parker finished with four wickets for 24 off his eight overs. Quentin Gare and Jeremy Gray were the other wicket takers. Owaka bowled 30 extras and dropped a key catch on the boundary which did not help its cause.
Kai Kings 232/6 (Blair Benington 56, Orry Young 37; Francis Parker 4›24) beat Owaka Bandits 229/7 (Gordon Edwards 119*, Jeremy Gray 35; Jason Young 3›21).