Peter Jones

Peter Jones

Gus Marfell competes in Wanaka. Photo: Mark Grammer Photography.

Podiums aplenty for tri team

A 12-strong Marlborough multisport contingent picked up six podium finishes at Challenge Wanaka and the New Zealand Secondary School Triathlon Championships staged last weekend in Central Otago.

Saturday’s events were the Half (swim of 1.9km, bike 90km, run 21km) and the Aquabike (3km swim, 120km bike).

In the Half, local multisport coach Mark Grammer made an impressive return to longer distance triathlon, winning the M55-59 category, while Jeremy McKenzie – fresh off a win in the Coast to Coast teams event the previous weekend – finished second in the M40-44 grade and 13th overall.

Paul Sell placed second in the M50-54 division, and fourth overall in the Aquabike, sandwiched between a former Aquabike world champion and a Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Olympic cyclist.  Other Marlburians who competed in the Half were Sandy O’Connell, 11th M55-59, Andrew Hill, 17th M35-39 and Paul Beckett,  29th M30-34.

On Sunday, it was the kids’ turn, cheered on by some of their parents and their coach, the aforementioned Grammer.

Following their father’s lead, two of McKenzie’s kids were on the podium, Neve winning the U12G and Finn coming third in the U14B.

In the U19B, Gus Marfell and Fergus Greer were 10th and 16threspectively in a very strong field while, in the equally competitive U16B section, Ryan Marfell and Joe Coldwell were sixth and 25th respectively.

The final podium of the weekend came when Greer, both Marfells and Coldwell combining to take second place for Marlborough Boys’ College in the Tag Team Relay, where all the athletes had to complete a triathlon of their own before handing on to the next competitor.

Next on the competition calendar is qualification for the World Championships Sprint Triathlon in New Plymouth at the end of March.

It’s fun on the podium as Grand Prix place-getters, Lucinda Askin, Tegan Fitzsimon and Heloise Tolo let loose with the champagne. Photo: Peter Jones.

Fitzsimon adds local flavour to jumping success

Two clear rounds propelled Christchurch rider Tegan Fitzsimon and Windermere Cappuccino to a spectacular victory in the feature event at the two-day South Island Show Jumping and Show Hunter Championships on Sunday.

Fitzsimon provided the class act at the impressive Marlborough Equestrian Park, near Spring Creek, taking out the Premier League Series Grand Prix over jumps measuring 140-160cm.

The 29-year-old and her mount, one of the nation’s top combinations and recent winners of the New Zealand World Cup Series, brought a “local” slant to the show ring, Windermere Cappuccino being bred by the Parkes family in Marlborough and part-owned by the notable equestrian clan.

Fitzsimon was very happy with how her mount performed over the two rounds that decided the Grand Prix title.

“He’s had plenty of experience at this height but it was definitely a technical-enough track the first round … he felt better in the second round. The track rode well and it was a very competitive class so the outcome was really good.”

There is no rest for the duo, who headed across the strait tonight for more competition in the North Island. Fitzsimon says Windermere Cappuccino is in fine form this season, as his record shows.

“He won the NZ World Cup series, he’s the national Grand Prix champion, now he’s won this, so I can’t ask much more of him.”

She was also quick to acknowledge the Parkes family’s input.

“It’s good to have a local connection. They are fantastic owners and really supportive so it’s nice to get some results for them.”

She was also full of praise for the venue and the organisers.

“It looks fantastic, obviously being a South Island championship they have put a lot of effort in – the grounds are brilliant. At this time of the year it’s quite hard to get the surface just right. It looks awesome.”

Although the winning partnership, with their two clear rounds, were comfortable winners of the main event, several other combinations also stood out, although all had rails down in the first round.

In second place was Kiwi Bird, ridden by Wellington’s Heloise Tolo, while Portofino, in the hands of Ashburton rider Lucinda Askin came third.

Before the Grand Prix event members of the public took the opportunity to walk the course on a guided tour with former Olympic medallist Vaughan Jefferis and course designer Lex Peddie.

The other big event in ring one on Sunday was the Pony Grand Prix series, which was won by North Otago rider Emma Gillies on Benrose Playtime, from her sister Samantha Gillies on Junior Disco.  Third was Wembleybrook Tiffany ridden by Johanna Wylaars.

Show director Helen Ensor was thrilled with how the event, the first time for many years the SI champs have been staged in this province, went.

“It’s gone amazingly. The public attendance has been phenomenal … we are thrilled to see so many spectators here to see such wonderful jumping.”

She was also happy with the size of the entry. “It would always be great to have more [competitors] but we have got all the top South Islanders here and a lot of others as well.”

Given the success of this event, hosting the national champs becomes a possibility, a scenario Ensor would not rule out.

“It’s a possibility. It would be great to think we could do something like that. If [hosting the nationals] ever happened it is probably two years away, it would take that long to plan it.

“But we have made a start and our sponsors seem to be very happy. A lot of them say they will be back again so that’s pretty exciting. If we can make it happen again that would be great.”

Clinton Whyte won the national B grade title. Photo: Peter Jones.

Local shooters on target at nationals

They may have been small in number, but the four-strong team of Kaituna Blenheim Rifle Club members that attended the recent NRANZ National Championships made their presence felt with a string of top placings.

The champs were staged at the Trentham Rifle Range, with its usual testing conditions. Despite several days of swirling, frontal fishtail winds with fast strength and angle changes the Kaituna members were to the fore, especially on the long ranges of 800, 900 and 1000 yards.

The Masefield Belt, the lead-up championship to the nationals, was won by Marlborough shooting stalwart Malcolm Dodson who scored 198.14 to take the coveted title from Clevedon’s Johan Du Toit on 196.22.

The national B grade title was taken out by Clinton Whyte, on 461.32, while David Dick finished fourth on 458.27. Both Whyte and Dick finished strongly at the last difficult 1000 yard distance to clinch their top placings, Dick top scoring the whole range with 48.3.

Teenager Jacob Morriss had a similarly strong finish at the last range to clinch second place in C grade on 452.23, just behind Te Puke’s Samantha Riddle on 458.37.

In the A grade championship Dodson finished second on 482.43, behind Australian David Black with 486.41 and ahead of Malvern’s Allan White on 481.55.

In the final 15-shot match at 900 yards to decide the Ballinger Belt, Dodson slipped back to third,  Black winning the battle of the colours to claim the prestigious Belt from White.

Zephyrs rule the waves in Picton

Queen Charlotte Yacht Club sailors who attended club day earlier this month found 50 Zephyrs parked on Shelley Beach.

No, not the iconic Ford-designed motorcar – these were distinctive single-sailor yachts set to take part in the Zephyr Nationals.

Saturday in Picton was all about last-minute tweaks and getting the boats weighed and measured, then some of the visiting sailors joined the local fleet racing in the afternoon.

On Sunday, the Zephyr fleet headed out to the outer harbour racing area where the first race got underway in a 17-20 knots north westerly wind. The trying conditions resulting in quite a few capsizes and a few breakages, however three races were sailed with the wind dropping a little over the last two events. On Monday the weather made for a great racing day with three races running smoothly, however on Tuesday, with the storm raging all over the country, racing was abandoned.

Several sailors took the opportunity of the down time to explore Marlborough on an arranged wine tour while the day was completed with a sit-down dinner for all involved in the not-quite-finished new QCYC clubhouse.

The last day of racing saw competitors manage three more races in dwindling 14 knot winds. With nine races completed the final placings were decided. Overall winner was Greg Wright of Worser Bay, from Tim Snedden of the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and third-placed Kelcey Gager (Manly Sailing Club).

Next up for the club is the Interislander Optimist champs and Port Marlborough Starling regatta on February 21-23.

Canterbury Country batsman Harry Chamberlain goes onto the attack. Photo: Peter Jones.

Third time unlucky for cricket reps

It was “third time unlucky” for Marlborough’s senior rep cricketers who were beaten outright by Canterbury Country in the Hawke Cup zone three qualifier at Horton Park on Sunday.

For the third successive season Marlborough were unable to claim the right to challenge for the prestigious trophy, symbol of minor association supremacy.

Two seasons ago Marlborough travelled to Rangiora and weather stymied their chance to force a first innings result against Country while, while last season they were well beaten by Nelson at home on Horton Park.

This time around a poor first session put the home side under all sorts of pressure and, although they battled hard to get themselves back in the three-day game and came close at times, they were on the back foot throughout.

Things began badly on Friday morning when, after being asked to bat, a batting collapse saw the home side in trouble immediately.

Opening bowler Jed Roberts was the main benefactor as Marlborough slumped to 35-4, then 53-6. Of the top seven batsmen only opener Tom Sutherland, 13, Akhil Pant, 15, and skipper Ma’ara Ave with 10 managed double figures.

The home side’s revival was sparked by hard-hitting allrounder Harry MacDonald. The No 8 batsman entered the fray at 110-7 in the 38th over and immediately took the attack to the Country bowlers. He slammed six fours and the same number of sixes as he raced to 84 from just 54 balls, featuring in a 44-run partnership with Chris Turkington, who scored 17. An unbeaten 20 from Nick Weaver allowed Marlborough to post a disappointing score of 186 before they were dismissed in the 59th over.

Roberts took the bowling honours, claiming 5-63 from 15 overs while Harry Chamberlain bagged two wickets for 27 from 10.

In reply, Canterbury Country began steadily, openers Joe Williams and Rupert Young taking the score through to 26 before Williams was dismissed by Turkington. When Young followed just six runs later, caught behind off the in-form Weaver, the home side sniffed a chance to redress the game’s balance.

However, a gritty 74-run partnership between Chamberlain and Ben Hartland saw the visitors move steadily past the 100-run mark, well in control of proceedings.

But there was twist in the tale. Late in the day Marlborough skipper Ave threw the ball to part-time spinner Prabodha Arthavidu and the Sri Lankan picked up two wickets in his first over, enticing catches from Chamberlain and night watchman Smith to lift Marlborough’s hopes.

At the scheduled close on day one Country had scored 108-4, trailing by 78 runs with six wickets intact.

An early wicket to Weaver on Saturday morning gave the home side the start they wanted but some resolute batting by Country soon dulled their enthusiasm.

The pairing of Shanan Stewart and Tim Gruijters batted sensibly, pouncing on any loose deliveries to accumulate a 95-run partnership and ensure the first innings edge was achieved.

When Gruijters fell for 41 at 205-6, Will Hamilton entered the fray and shared in a 30-run partnership with Stewart, then a 61-run combination with Sam Chamberlain. Hamilton ended on an unbeaten 70 from 109 balls, topping the scoring from Stewart who scored 64 from 111 as Country registered 317.

Leading the way with the ball for Marlborough was Arthavidu, the part- time spinner claiming 4-40 from 10 overs, while Weaver, Sam Boyce and Turkington all grabbed a brace.

Trailing by 131 Marlborough needed to wipe off the deficit quickly then try to score quick runs on Sunday with the intention of forging a decent lead, declaring then bowling Country out to claim an outright. They began in promising fashion, reaching 113-2 off 32 overs before stumps were drawn on Saturday with Arthavidu, on 43, and Akhil Pant, 21, after opener Tom Sutherland had scored 41 from 72 balls.

However their work was undone quickly on Sunday morning, Arthavidu perishing with the addition of only one run, his demise followed by a steady progression of players to and from the pavilion. Again, MacDonald showed aggression, his 37 from 20 balls and 21 from Weaver pushing Marlborough 221 when they were dismissed in the 58th over. Best of the Country attack was Gruijters with 3-34.

A lead of 90 was never going to be enough to force an outright against an accomplished batting line-up and so it proved, Country moving through to 91 in the 23rd over, despite losing five wickets along the way with Rupert Young, 46 from 43, their top scorer. The highly-impressive Weaver, who claimed his 100th wicket for Marlborough in this innings grabbed 3-32, while Athavidu picked up 2-30, earning him six wickets for the match.

Marlborough coach Jarrod Englefield said his side hoped to get “a minimum of 150 to 200 runs ahead” before Country batted a second time, but it wasn’t to be.

“The pitch was starting to wear and turn with variable bounce so we may have been in with a [outright] chance. We did well to get to where we did the night before but this morning we didn’t front up with the bat so they only had to chase 90.

“Our top six batting basically let us down, in both innings. We were always chasing our tail from that first innings with the bat, and there was nothing wrong with the pitch … Harry MacDonald gave us a good chance, then on the second morning we bowled our guts out and set up an opportunity to bowl them out for under 185 but their experience got them through … the game just got away from us.

“There were moments there when we could have controlled it but unfortunately we didn’t.”

Marlborough missed the experience of former skippers Matt Stretch and Jerrym Lamb, who were absent with personal commitments, but Englefield was loath to use that as an excuse.

“The players that we had were more than capable of forcing a result.”

Despite the result, Englefield hailed another strong Hawke Cup campaign, where his side beat both Nelson and Buller outright then Country on the first innings.

“[The loss is] frustrating but we can take a lot out of it … going into this game we were probably in the best position we have been in to get the challenge, but that one bad session really hurt us.”

Marlborough’s final outing is a Newman Shield challenge against Nelson on March 8.

Canadian driver Scott Liddycoat will pilot the impressive Miss New Zealand. Photo: Supplied.

Hydroplanes set to light up lake

Ten GP hydroplanes are expected to be the stars of the show as the third race in the Hydro Thunder race series takes place at Lake Rotoiti on February 29 and March 1.

The ENZED Rotoiti Power Boat Club Regatta has been a popular addition to the sporting calendar and club spokesman Joe Blakiston said this year’s line-up was particularly impressive with several new drivers and boats taking part in the GP series, in preparation for next year’s world championships which are to be held in New Zealand.

As always the Lupton family will be strong contenders with Ken Lupton driving LUCAS Oils GP577 currently ahead in the tightly-contested series. GP 77 Miss New Zealand lies second at this stage, driven by Canadian speed merchant Scott Liddycoat with former NZ champions Jack Lupton, Scott Coker and David Alexander also well in contention for the series honours.

South Island support will be behind GP273, Lady Liz driven by Southlander Jason Haggerty.

A full weekend of racing will be on offer at Lake Rotoiti across several classes. Formula 1 tunnel boat racer and current New Zealand champion Julian Stilwell is racing to fix his engine in time for the regatta which will also feature racing in runabouts, inboards and the popular clubman classes.

Blakiston says they are fortunate to have the support of DoC and the Rotoiti community and reminded people that racing started at 10am each day, with no dogs or drones allowed in the national park.

The Marlborough men’s relay team with the McConochie Memorial Baton. From left: Joseph Brooks, James Hansen, DJ Arbuckle and Dave Hansen. Photo: Kim Bacchus.

Athletes compete strongly at Mahar Cup meet

Marlborough’s senior athletes performed with distinction in the 83rd Mahar Cup inter-provincial contest at Nelson’s Saxton Field on Saturday.

Competing against Nelson and West Coast, every member of the Marlborough team contributed points to their tally of 126, good enough for second place overall.

Nelson won the Mahar Cup with a total of 227 points while West Coast finished third with 89.

A highlight for Marlborough was provided by the senior men’s relay team of Dave Hansen, Joseph Brooks, James Hansen and DJ Arbuckle who combined superbly to win the prestigious McConochie Memorial Baton. The last time Marlborough won this event was in 2013 when the meet was last staged in Greymouth.

No Mahar Cup records were broken by either of the three teams.

The Marlborough Mahar Cup team was: Dave Hansen, John Rawcliffe, Seb Bacchus, Dale Smit, Joseph Brooks, James Hansen, Dale (DJ) Arbuckle, Tracey Sims, Laura Smidt, Lucy Harman, Mia Wiapo and Jorja Bacchus.

Individual event winners: Lucy Harman (senior women’s 3000m); Dave Hansen (senior men’s 200m, 400m, discus, shot put); Joseph Brooks (junior men’s 200m, 100m, long jump); Laura Smidt (senior women’s 1500m); James Hansen (under-17 boys 400m); Jorja Bacchus (under-17 girls high jump); Dale Arbuckle (under-17 boys high jump); Seb Bacchus (senior men’s javelin, high jump); Mya Wiapo (under-17 girls shot put, long jump)

Final points: Nelson 220, Marlborough 129, West Coast 90.

Final U17 grades scores: Male – Marlborough 23, Nelson 22, West Coast 8. Female – Nelson 59, Marlborough 15, West Coast 12.

Cam Anderson claimed two titles in Dunedin. Photo: Peter Jones.

Young mountain biker picks up new year honours

A decision to concentrate his efforts on mountain biking has already paid big dividends for Marlborough teenager Cam Anderson.

Until recently the 14-year-old Marlborough Boys’ College Year 10 student enjoyed a varied sporting diet, dabbling in road cycling and triathlon, but at the start of this year he opted to focus his energies on mountain biking, particularly the cross country discipline.

The rewards have been swift. Last year he won his section in the New Zealand schools champs and was an integral part of the MBC combination which claimed the overall national teams title.

In early 2020 he upped the ante, taking out both the Oceania and New Zealand under-15 titles and underlining his status as one of the rising talents on the national scene.

The Oceania and NZ champs were staged at Signal Hill in Dunedin, the younger riders tackling the same demanding course used by the elite riders, an opportunity which delighted the young Marlburian.

“It was really cool, lots of fun watching the elites race and racing with more spectators on a World Cup course. It was a bit more technical than the schools racing which I had previously done.”

All five grades competed on the 4km course, the under-15s covering three laps, each taking around 15-20 minutes.

Against compact, but strong fields, Cam took out the Oceania title on Friday and backed up with the national title two days later. He was a clear winner on both days, finishing two minutes clear of the field.

His closest rival for the NZ title was fellow MBC student and best mate Finn McKenzie who finished second in the NZ champs and third in the Oceania event.

Cam’s strategy was simple, allowing him to lead both races almost all the way. “I just went hard from the start really. I sprinted early then just saw where everyone was at … but no-one was with me so I just went for it and I was comfortable in front.”

Next up is the South Island Schools champs at Methven in March, followed by the national schools champs in Kerikeri during October.

While he has Finn close at hand to train and race with, Cam has other rivals on the circuit.

“There’s a guy called Noah [Hollamby] who was going to race the Oceanias and nationals. We have raced against him in road cycling here and he beat us, so I was looking forward to taking him on … unfortunately he crashed in the practise laps and broke his collarbone. I’ll probably catch up with him at the South Island schools.”

When asked to name mentors or role models one name immediately springs to mind. “Craig Harper … he gave me a training programme for the national schools last year which really helped, plus some mental and physical strategy advice. What he did in the RAAM last year was pretty cool and inspirational.”

He also said [local coach] Mark Grammer had been a major influence. “Mark’s coaching over the past few years has really helped me form good habits and, although we work hard, the focus is always about having fun.”

Cam said his decision to leave triathlon behind and concentrate fully on mountain biking was not a hard one to make.

“Mountain biking is definitely my favourite. I like the thrill of riding fast, plus the training and all the commitment to the sport, and riding with my friends.

“You have got to be smart when you ride cross country – focus on the downhill and don’t push it too hard otherwise you’ll crash and maybe waste 20 seconds or so. I also enjoy the tactical side [of the race] … work out what the race is looking like as you go along.”

While there is a considerable risk of injury in a sport where bikes fly around narrow tracks at great speeds, Cam says he has other concerns on his mind as he sits at the start.

“Mechanical issues are my biggest worry. Breakdowns and crashes on the downhill [sections] can waste a lot of time and be especially annoying since I have been training for a long time … I just don’t want to stuff up really. You’ve got to pick the right lines and be smart about where you race or you will get breakdowns, lose a chain or get a puncture. They leave you feeling pretty bad.”

And the best feeling?

“Winning a race … just going across the finish line with your hand up, taking the victory. I like that feeling.”

Given the teen’s current rate of progress that feeling is likely to be repeated on many occasions as he chases his sporting dream.

“I want to try and be a professional [mountain biker] in the future, just keep chipping away at it. It’s great fun, but I guess it will take a lot of training, the right nutrition and exercise and just hard, hard work.”

Tony Hitchcock and Helen Ensor. Photo: Supplied.

Top-level showjumping coming to Marlborough

It has been frequently stated, “to ride is to borrow wings”.

If living proof of that oft-quoted mantra is needed, the Marlborough Equestrian Park is the place to be on February 15-16.

For two days many of the nation’s most accomplished horse and rider combinations will test their skills by attempting to soar over a combination of obstacles of varying heights and difficulty.

Spectators at the Select Marlborough Wineries South Island Showjumping and Show Hunter championships will be treated to international-class competition, featuring over 200 horses and 100 riders.

Some of the nation’s leading combinations will vie for South Island titles in both showjumping, where competitors are judged on speed and faults, and show hunting, where they are judged on manners and style.

Marlborough showjumping stalwart Helen Ensor, one of the enthusiastic and hard-working team behind the event, anticipated some thrilling sights as the Grand Prix horses tackle fences up to 1.6m high, some with a horizontal spread of 1.55m.

As a spectator sport showjumping is hard to beat, with patrons able to view the high-flying action from close range.

Some leading performers will be present. Tegan Fitzsimons, the 2019 FEI Jumping World Cup (New Zealand League) champion has confirmed her attendance, while Ensor said the Marlborough event hoped to attract “some of the top [Grand Prix] showjumpers from the North Island”.

There will also be local riders in action, including pony grand prix competitor Meg Bissett, amateur class rider Georgia Reed and showhunter class entrant Jane Fowler, who have all shown impressive form in various competitions this season.

“We don’t have any Grand Prix horses here in Marlborough,” explained Ensor, “but we are certainly holding our own in the amateur and other classes.”

The vastly-experienced rider is not about to miss out on the excitement either, competing in the up to 1.25m grade on her mount, Zactac Carnival.

Ensor said the organisers were hoping for “a carnival atmosphere” at the Park, which opened in 2014, with food carts, wine tents and trade stands on site, along with almost continual action in the show ring.

This will be the largest event staged at the venue and has received plenty of local support.

“We have had an amazing response from local businesses,” said Ensor. “We have 12 wineries sponsoring the horse Grand Prix … and they are all Marlborough wineries.”

Organisers have had to think big to cater for the influx of horses and riders, bringing in 120 portable yards to augment the stabling on site, with any overflow destined for Waterlea Racecourse. Many of the riders will stay in their horse trucks on site, she suggested, while others will support local accommodation providers.

Ensor said competitors would walk the course, working out how many strides their mounts would take between each of the jumps, which they have to remember when they tackle the modular set-up.

While there is plenty of adrenaline associated with tackling such formidable obstacles, she said everything “just clicks into place” when you start your round.

“Because you are concentrating and remembering what you have walked … you are not thinking about feeling amazing while you are doing it, you are just thinking about how you are going to ride it and get around this course clear.”

Ensor said the SI champs had been staged in Blenheim previously, over a decade ago at the A and P Showgrounds, and recalled that they were a major success attracting around two thousand spectators.

Entry is free and plenty of parking is available at the Marlborough Equestrian Park, which will be signposted from the Ferry Bridge at Spring Creek.

The Marlborough players clap medium-pacer Sam Boyce from the field after his five-wicket haul at Horton Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

Cricket reps book hometown final

It’s home sweet home for the Marlborough senior men’s rep cricketers after they completed a comfortable first innings win over Canterbury Country at the weekend.

On Saturday, they earned the right to host the forthcoming Hawke Cup zone three cricket final when they bettered nearest challenger Canterbury Country on the first innings, then on Sunday the match was called off early with little chance of an outright result and Country unable catch the hosts even if they did get one.

After being inserted at Horton Park the visitors, who trailed Marlborough by seven points on the overall standings going into the weekend’s final round robin match, were undone by a steady diet of controlled pace bowling.

They were dismissed for a meagre 139 in the 44th over, a total Marlborough passed for the loss of just five wickets, effectively booking hosting rights for the three-day zone challenge decider on February 14-16.

Hero with the ball for Marlborough was seamer Sam Boyce who claimed 5-34 from nine overs. The experienced medium pacer troubled all the opposition batsmen, bowling two of his victims and having three caught behind by keeper Ma’ara Ave. Nick Weaver continued his recent wicket-taking form, grabbing 2-48 from 13. Harry MacDonald bowled economically, conceding just 20 runs from his 10 overs, as did Chris Turkington, 1-8 from five, and Jerrym Lamb, 1-22 from seven.

Canterbury Country opener Rupert Young provided the most resistance for the southerners, putting together a patient 49 from 73 balls, but his team mates struggled to provide support. No 8 batsman Angus Sidey, with 22 from 38, helped out near the end but their final tally was never going to be enough if Marlborough, even without key batsman Prabodha Arthavidu who is unavailable this week, batted well.

And that they did. There were initial hiccups with Joel Lavender, Ave and skipper Matthew Stretch all back in the pavilion before tea with only 33 on the board. Opener Tom Sutherland, who contributed a dogged 33 from 72 balls departed soon after the break, bringing veterans Andrew McCaa and Jerrym Lamb together.

Despite Country ringing the bowling changes in an attempt to make further inroads the pair combined for a game-changing partnership of 79 before McCaa fell for a defiant 38 from 69. Lamb was joined by MacDonald who quickly took the attack to Country, a six over long on pushing the home side’s tally past their rivals and confirming final hosting rights.

MacDonald’s quick-fire innings of 19 ended with the score at 152, then Lamb was dismissed for a superb 56 from 113 balls just 15 runs later. The former captain’s composure under pressure and willingness to play each ball on its merits were pivotal on a day when batting application was not always top priority.

However the some side were not done, showing off their batting depth as the visitors wilted in the late evening sunshine. Akhil Pant, on his debut, was unbeaten on 24 at the close while Cooper Roberts scored a composed 19 from 30 balls as Marlborough ended a satisfying day at 217-8 from 66 overs, an overall lead of 78 runs heading into the final day.

On a sweltering Sunday morning, Marlborough continued to frustrate the visiting attack, Pant moving through to a well-organised 47 from 85 balls, and featuring in a 50-run partnership with Chris Turkington who finished unbeaten on 23 as Marlborough’s first innings ended on 261, a lead of 122.

Best of the Country bowlers, who were accurate and economical although not constantly threatening, was medium pacer Will Smith, a late call-up for Canterbury player Fraser Sheat, who bagged 4-50 from 16 overs. Sam Chamberlain picked up 2-36 while opening paceman Jed Roberts grabbed 2-34.

Batting a second time, Country looked more solid, moving through to 81-1, Jeremy Benton 42 not out, before time was called by captain’s agreement at the scheduled lunch break.

Marlborough head coach Jarrod Englefield said his side “got heaps” out of the game.

“It was a very pleasing result. We had to approach this game differently to the last one … the way the points were structured we had to make sure we didn’t lose outright so we could gain a home final … we decided to give ourselves the best chance of doing that by bowling first.

“To bowl like we did showed a lot of character … we put the ball in the right areas … any time you can bowl Canterbury Country out for 139 is a great effort.

“When we batted we were under pressure at the top but we established partnerships, batted deep and long. To get 250 showed we are batting well at the moment – it just gives us a lot of confidence moving into the final.”

Englefield was delighted by Boyce’s effort. “It was his second five-wicket bag for Marlborough – he set it up for us by getting out the key batsmen. He was outstanding and well supported by Harry MacDonald, Chris Turkington and Nick Weaver.

“With the bat we had Jerrym and Andrew who showed their experience, knuckled down in a tight spot and gave us a really good chance of getting the first innings result. Akhil Pant also batted well … there were plenty of highlights.”