After the Mighty Ape Wellington Firebirds’ game in Dunedin had been abandoned earlier in the day, the remaining 2014 Georgie Pie Super Smash qualifiers went head to head in Napier in the intriguing last tussle of the regular season.
The southern washout had already secured for the Knights a top two placing, but a chance to put one over another pontential finalist did not go begging. The defending champions trumped a boisterous start from the Aces to restrict them to 135-8 after the Mondiale Auckland Aces had elected to bat.
After his opening onslaught against the Kings the previous evening, removing Luke Wright early was clearly key for the Knights. Again, the English pro wasted no time pasting runs on the board and he blasted four boundaries off a single Scott Kuggeleijn over, 18 runs flying off it.
Wright’s undoing came in the sixth over, however, when spinner Jono Boult took the first of his four wickets, Jono Hickey pocketing the catch in the outfield.
Sunstrike from the setting sun briefly interrupted play at the 10-over mark, by which time the Aces were four down and birthday boy Boult was sitting on figures of 2-5. He continued his celebrations for ultimate figures of 4-23, but the wicket of the night was an athletic caught and bowled from part-timer Daryl Mitchell to dismiss Donovan Grobbelaar and reduce the Aces to 87-5 after 14.
In reply, the Knights made a firm start, captain Daniel Flynn pressing on to his third 50 of the competition. He was assisted by wicketkeeper Tim Seifert, promoted to first drop: they conjured a 50-run partnership. The youthful Seifert impressed by smashing consecutive sixes off Lockie Ferguson to bring up the Knights’ 100, and although the game stretched to the final over, the Aces never looked like stopping the pink march.
The win means the Knights have booked themselves in to play the Firebirds in the first of the finals at Hamilton’s Seddon Park on Friday night. The winner of that game will proceed direct to the Final, while the loser will play the Aces on Saturday night for a second chance.