SOUTH OTAGO CRICKET CORRESPONDENT
The Owaka Bandits moved into second position in the South Otago Cricket 40-over competition with a comfortable five-wicket win over the Clutha Comets, played at the Cosmic Bullring in Balclutha.
The heat was extraordinary as both sides braved the elements and put on a decent show for the spectators.
Clutha was asked to bat first by Bandits skipper Quentin Gare and it recorded 145 all out in the 36th over of the innings.
A few lusty blows from opening batter Scott McLaren looked to get his side off to a strong start, but it was Owaka who dominated early.
Opening bowler Matt Morahan was on fire and took two key early wickets at the other end.
When McLaren was dismissed shortly after by Joel White, the Comets were in the mud at 26 for the loss of three.
It didn’t get any easier through the middle stages for the home side as Owaka’s bowlers turned the screws and left Clutha languishing at 53 for the loss of six at the midway point in the innings.
An innings-saving 80-run seventh wicket partnership between Connor Smith and Daniel Sutherland gave Clutha hope as the two batters dug in and showed the grit and determination their top order should have.
Smith offered a few chances that weren’t taken by the Bandits fielders and made his way to 40 before being dismissed off the bowling of offspinner Jeremy Gray.
Sutherland was also out, caught off the bowling of Quentin Gare as Owaka mopped up the tail with little issue.
The standout bowler for Owaka was opener, Matt Morahan. Morahan bowled eight overs and recorded supreme figures of two for 11. Captain Quentin Gare took one for 11 off six overs too.
In reply 145 was never going to be enough with Owaka opening batter Jeremy Gray in red hot form.
Gray backed up his century from last weekend with 71 runs at the top of the innings to give Owaka the best possible start after two early wickets.
Gray shared in partnerships with Jethro Melville (16) and Quentin Gare (29*) as Owaka chased the total down with 13 overs to spare to give it maximum points.
Clutha bowlers Kelan Smith and Gareth Jolly took two wickets each for the home side conceding 42 and 43 runs respectively off their eight overs.
This win sees Clutha drop to third on the table and back into the fight for finals placings.
Only one team can miss out on finals cricket and with the reinvention of the Valley Stingers in recent weeks, Clutha will have a fight on its hands.
Owaka is all but guaranteed a semifinal spot, but they will want to finish as high up as possible.
Clutha hosts Waihola next Saturday in a make-or-break match. Owaka has the bye and will gladly take another five points for its efforts.
Owaka Bandits 148/5 (Jeremy Gray 71, Quentin Gare 29*; Kelan Smith 2-42) beat Clutha Comets 145 (Connor Smith 40, Scott McLaren 22; Matt Morahan 2-11)
The Waihola Swans match against the Valley Stingers at Milton was played on Waitangi Day Monday due to a wedding in the weekend.
Waihola Swans 156/9 (Rowan Craw 36, Dylan Bungard 26, Brad Williams 3-29) beat Valley Stingers 153/8 (Marc Phillips 36*, Alex Campbell 35, Marc Phillips 3-16). See the full results on the Facebook page.