After a strong run through the front of their campaign, the Aces found themselves surprise upsets in the final round of the regular season, going down at their Sandringham Road fortress to the bottom of the table Otago Volts.
The upset hasn’t cost the Aces anything but pride, the Aucklanders already through to the playoffs and set to host the 2018 2v3 Elimination Final at 4.10pm this Wednesday against the Central Stags back at Outer Oval, the Aces already assured of second spot on the table and the Stags getting up into the top three at the death.
It was a welcome return to his old Aces stomping ground for Volts captain Rob Nicol (below) — he was the Aces’ captain here last season — as he won the toss and elected to bowl, his rallying southerners putting the Aces under pressure and reducing them to 16 for four early on.
It was a rare top order collapse and the middle order of Robbie O’Donnell (34), Sam Curran (32) and Ben Horne (26) who eventually ensured the Aces’ bowling unit had something to defend, Matt Bacon (below) picking up four wickets as the Aces scrambled to a lowish 139 for nine from their 20 overs.
It was proving to be a day for the bowlers, however, with their own new face of pace Ben Lister striking in the first over to remove Nicol for a duck.
The bowlers continued to dominate, the Volts innings following a similar trend to the Aces’ — losing early wickets to be 34 for four after the power play.
Derek de Boorder (50*) was the mainstay of the chase as Lister, Curran and Ronnie Hira all claimed two wickets each.
Import Curran was particularly impressive, his four overs going for just 20 runs.
The match going down the wire, the Volts found themselves needing 10 off the final over from Lister, and Michael Rae and de Boorder held their nerve to see the visitors home with a ball to spare.
The home side’s attention will quickly shift to Wednesday now where they will host the Stags in the do-or-die Elimination Final, a place in Saturday’s 2018 Burger King Super Smash Grand Final against the Knights up for grabs. Should weather preclude a result, it will be the Aces who carry on to the big one in the Tron.