The Falcons are the Marlborough one day cricket champions after accounting for their Tasman Premier League rivals, the Dolphins, in a low-scoring encounter on Saturday.
After sharing the honours in their two previous encounters this season the two Marlborough Labour Hire-sponsored sides met at Horton Park with the Grove Tavern Trophy on the line.
The Dolphins won the toss and asked their rivals to bat, making early inroads. After struggling initially at 22-4 the Falcons put together a series of small partnerships as they worked their way towards a modest total of 140 before losing their final wicket in the 36th over. Nick Weaver scored 17, Harrison Boyce hit out lustily for 28 from just 20 balls, then Max Armstrong scored a valuable 15 before Bradley Horton (24 not out) and Joel Pannell (10 from 25) batted positively in an invaluable 37-run partnership for the 10th wicket.
Matt McCormick was the pick of the Dolphins’ attack, bagging 4-22 from 10 overs of accurate medium pace, including dismissing four of the top six batsmen. Akhil Bhardwaj, Prabodha Arthavidu, Jack Walden and Mike Anstis also claimed wickets, with Bhardwaj being particularly economical.
The Dolphins’ run chase was immediately under pressure as Falcons’ opening bowlers Nick Weaver and Matthew Stretch ripped through the top order. Left arm paceman Weaver, who finished with 3-24 from 10, including the key wicket of Arthavidu, and spinner Stretch, 3-22 from 10, combined to restrict their rivals to 6-36, from where they never recovered.
McCormick, batting seven, threatened to take the game away from the Falcons with a hard-hit 27 from 33 balls, but was dismissed by spinner Tim Petrie with the score at 72-8. A patient 18 from 66 balls from Nick Wilder kept Dolphins in the hunt but his demise, dismissed by off spinner Alex Kennedy in the 38th over, signalled the end of the match.
Earlier in the week the Marlborough Boys’ College First XI lost a low-scoring encounter to their Nelson College counterparts.
The match was played at Saxton Oval with the top qualifying position for the Gillette Cup at stake.
MBC made a strong start batting first, reaching 59 without loss after the first 17 overs, but the next 17 were a disaster, losing seven wickets for the addition of just 30 runs. MBC limped through to 113 beforea bold bowling and fielding effort saw them get back in the game.
They had the home side reeling at 78-8 but were unable to seal the deal, the Nelson tail getting the job done.
The Hawke Cup is headed for the South Island after Canterbury Country, who beat Marlborough in the zone three qualifying final two weeks ago, got the better of holders Hamilton at the weekend.
Country’s victory was set up by a superb bowling effort on day one, Henry Shipley with 6-27 leading the way as the holders were dismissed for 98. Country replied with 240, Shanan Stewart’s 113 setting the tone. Batting second Hamilton were dismissed for 243 as they chased an outright, then Country knocked off the 103 runs required for an outright victory for the loss of five wickets.
If Country manage to retain the cup against Southland next weekend, they will play in the zone three group next year but will leave either Marlborough, Nelson or Buller to battle for the right to challenge.