Jefferies Cup in Finnie’s sights

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Mitchell Finnie finally got his hands on the Bates Shield.

Now he has another trophy in his sights — the Jefferies Cup.

Finnie helped Otago wrestle the Bates Shield off Southland in Dunedin last month.

The Otago Whatukura defeated Southland 4-0 and the Otago Mareikura (women) also enjoyed success, beating Southland 9-6 to retain the Henderson Shield.

Finnie had been trying to win the Bates Shield for years. The Otago Whatukura player-coach reckons he had had more than half a dozen attempts to lift it but to no avail.

The Mareikura have enjoyed more recent success but incredibly it had been 60 years since Otago held both the Bates Shield and Henderson Shield.

The Whatukura are riding a high. They won the the Jefferies Cup — the men’s South Island interprovincial tournament — in 2021 to end a 28-year long drought.

Canterbury claimed the trophy back last season. But Finnie is hopeful the return of the Watts brothers, Cameron and Ben, will help Otago return to the top.

The Watts brothers are both in the national squad. Ben, a pitcher, will make a big difference on the mound. And Cameron is a slick catcher and heavy-hitter.

The Whatukura open their campaign against Nelson at 9am tomorrow. They play the defending champions Canterbury at 11am and Southland in the afternoon.

Their last round-robin game is against South Canterbury on Sunday.

The top qualifier secures direct entry into the final, while the second and third place teams will playoff for the right to play in the final.

"I’m hoping we go pretty well. Canterbury is always the benchmark ... and they will be tough competition.

"But with Ben on the mound it should be very interesting and will keep it close."

Finnie will be sharing the pitching load with Ben Watts, who is returning from an arm injury.

"So we are just going to ease him into it?

"Maybe just use him for the big games and I’ll get us through the others."

The Mareikura will contest the Jubilee Cup in Christchurch this weekend as well. Coach Corey Senelala could not be reached for comment.

The Otago under-17 boys side will compete in the Mainland Shield which is run in Christchurch at the same time as the Jefferies and Jubilee Cups.


Otago teams

Jefferies Cup

Otago Whatukura: Ben Foster, Josh Jones, Caleb Leddie, Nathan Hill, Corbin Tuwairua, Ash Watson, Anaru Anderson, Cameron Watts, Josh Forrester, Mitchell Finnie, James Mathieson, Dennis Kristel, Arana Kelly, Ben Watts.

Jubilee Cup

Otago Māreikura: Mariana Ioane, Terena Anderson-Ramsay, Katie Smith, Kate Dolinski, Kadince Robinson, Heaven Samson-Loffley, Tessa Brown, Keisha Togo, Erin Jacobson, Teah Price, Toni Elers, Paige Carr, Marissa Ahlfeld, Brooke Pennicott, Cheyann Whyte.