Falcons defy weather to grab early points

Falcons skipper Matthew Stretch drives the ball through the covers on his way to a half century against Wakatu as the TPL competition began at Horton Park today. Photo: Peter Jones.

The Tasman Premier League cricket season got off to a soggy start in Blenheim on Saturday, with the Marlborough Labour Hire Falcons side being the main benefactor after both games were rain-shortened.

The Falcons took on Nelson side Wakatu at Horton Park, battling their way to a meagre total of 144 from just 41.4 off their 50-over allocation.

Rep skipper Matthew Stretch underlined his early-season form with a second consecutive half century, following 64 for a Marlborough Invitation XI last weekend, when he notched a hard-hit 55 from 63 balls. His innings, plus a timely 26 from Chris Turkington and an unbeaten 18 from veteran Greg Stretch gave the local innings some much-needed middle order substance.

Damian Aitken, who took 3-34 from eight overs, Campbell McLean with 2-19 from seven, Liam Rowling with 2-16, also from seven, and Hunter Cavil with 2-49 from his full complement of 10 overs did the damage on a slowish wicket.

With rain threatening, Wakatu came out chasing hard but lost wickets regularly, eventually left sitting at 86-6 when the rain came after 24.5 overs, leaving the home side winners under the Duckworth Lewis system. Opener Jim Morrison was on 32 when the rain came, having carried his bat, but received very little help along the way. Aitken scored 24 batting at seven, but at 5-50 the writing was on the wall early for Wakatu.

Main destroyers with the ball for the Falcons were Nick Weaver, with 2-16 from four, Sam Boyce, 1-14 from four, Greg Stretch with 1-21 off 8.5 and Matt Stretch with 1-27 from eight.

On the other ground, the Marlborough Labour Hire Dolphins were well on top when the weather deteriorated, but with their innings not having reached the 20-over mark, they were unable to force a victory over WTTU.

Batting first, the visitors were dismissed for 156 in the final over. They were handily placed at 76-3, but lost their way as the Dolphins slower bowlers took control. Tom Cross, who scored 50 at the top of the order led the way with the bat, his main support coming from Sam Baxendine with 24, batting seven.

Josh Poole led the way for the home side with the ball, taking 4-23 from his 10 overs, while Rikki Bovey, 3-15 from nine, was the other standout.

Despite facing a handy WTTU bowling unit, Dolphins openers Luke Frankland and Bovey prospered. Frankland was the anchor, scoring 19 not out from 63 balls, while Bovey went on the attack, amassing an unbeaten 50 from 53 balls, with 10 fours.

Nicely placed at 90-0 after 19 overs, the home side’s scoring rate was well ahead of the required Duckworth Lewis target, but an over short of making it an official game, so they had to settle for sharing two points apiece after the match was abandoned.

The two matches in Nelson avoided the rain but had vastly different results, Nelson College easily accounting for the newly-promoted Wanderers/Motueka side while the other fixture, between Stoke Nayland and ACOB, ended in a late-evening tie.

TPL round one scores

Falcons 144 (41.4 overs) Wakatu 86/6 (24.5 overs). Match abandoned. Win to Falcons on D/L System.

WTTU 156 (49.4 overs) Dolphins 90/0 (19 overs). Match abandoned. Two points each.

Stoke Nayland 262/9 (Patrick Howes 117, Clayton Campbell 45, Ricky Edwards 30, Reuben Smith 3/38, Daniel Grimes 2/38, Ollie Jones-Allen 2/43) ACOB 262 (Daniel Grimes 71, Jack Milton 60, Ollie Jones-Allen 22, Shane White 21, Dylan Eginton 3/56, Thomas Chambers 2/49). Match tied.

Nelson College 212/2 (Jack Morris 104*, Finn Raxworthy 56, Finn Restieaux 29*) Wanderers/Motueka  57 (Finn Raxworthy 5/4, Jarrod McKay 3/11). Nelson College won by 155 runs.

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