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The Kai Kings have one foot in the T20 final after a convincing 31-run win over the previously unbeaten Owaka Bandits at the Royal Landfill in Kaitangata.
The home side was sent into bat in South Otago club play and Orry Young and Pat McKenna added 49 for the first wicket off six overs.
William Casey and Jason Young then added 80 for the third wicket in a stand which broke the back of Owaka's innings.
The two batsmen fell in the same over as they tried to increase the run rate towards the end. Kai ended up scoring a solid 144 for five off its 20 overs. Young top-scored with 43 and Casey got 25.
Owaka bowled 30 extras, which it would have found disappointing. Jacob Beal-Harris returned the best figures for his side with two for 13 off three overs.
In reply, the Bandits' top-order woes continued, losing opener Beal-Harris in the first over and partner Jeremy Gray not long after.
Bandits captain Francis Parker tried to resurrect the innings and batted well with his middle order before throwing his wicket away in usual fashion. A late flurry from Nathan White brought the Bandits close but Kai's death bowling and field placements were good, and Owaka was all out for 113 on the final ball of the game. Parker top-scored with 42 and Nathan White had 22.
Lilly Paterson and Kobe Thomson took two wickets each. Paterson was again asked to bowl at the death and performed admirably for her side.
The Valley Stingers had their first success of the season with a 37-run win over the Waihola Swans at the Wasp Nest in Tuapeka.
The home side chose the willow first and made 137 for seven off its 20 overs.
Opening batsman Bevan McCall scored 59 at the top of the innings and was part of a match-defining partnership of 47 with Michael Johnston.
Craig Gordon was the pick of the Waihola bowlers. His first over was a two-wicket maiden and he followed that up with three miserly overs. He finished with figures of two for 12 off four overs. Kellan Crowie also bowled well, taking three for 20 off four overs.
In reply, the Swans' run chase started slowly with Valley opening bowler Richard Ray beginning with a maiden over.
The run rate did not increase much and Waihola was on 18 after five overs. The Swans were always behind the run rate and the running between the wickets could have been better.
Some lower-end heaving from Jason Hill (20) gave Waihola a slim chance towards the end but good death bowling from Valley got it home comfortably as Waihola could only manage 100 for eight.
Marc Phillips took three for 13 off four for Valley. Ray was wicketless but bowled very well with figures of none for 11 off four.
The Lawrence Lions moved into second equal with an eight-wicket win over the Clutha Comets at the Cosmic Bullring in Balclutha.
The Comets batted first and made 119 for eight off their 20 overs. The Smith brothers, Connor (29) and Kelan (22), top-scored in their innings. Lions skipper Sam Wyber took two for 13 off his four overs.
In reply, Lawrence chased the score down with three overs remaining for the loss of only three wickets.
Mitch Pryde was the main contributor with the bat making 36. Tyler Ritchie, Craig Sheppard and Sam Mosley took Clutha's three wickets.
Lawrence has given itself a big opportunity to appear in the final. Two more wins from here guarantees it for the resurgent Lions side.
- By Francis Parker