Stags beat Knights in HRV Cup opener

Defending champions, the Central Stags, announced themselves as again the team to beat in the HRV Cup with a thumping 78-run win over the Northern Knights in Hamilton.

Not content with dominating the opening rounds of the Plunket Shield First-Class competition, Central adapted quickly to the shortest version of the game in a match between two of the Twenty20 favourites to kick-start the 10-round tournament.

They reached an impressive 176 for five and bowled tightly to dismiss the hosts 99 in the 19th over - the regular loss of wickets meaning Northern never threatened.

English left-arm spinners Ian Blackwell and Mike Yardy starred for the winners with both bat and ball. Blackwell struck three sixes in his game-high 45 off 24 balls as he and Yardy combined for a rapid fourth-wicket partnership of 76 after a sluggish team start.

Yardy compiled 32 at a run-a-ball while Kieran Noema-Barnett thumped an unbeaten 40 off 22 and wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk was 32 not out off 24.

The English imports put the breaks on through the middle stages while teenage paceman Adam Milne also impressed, taking two for 19 while bowling with eye-opening speed in his first game at this level. The best figures belonged to seamer Michael Mason, who took three for 17 off his four overs.

Northern Knights' players disappointed aside from Australian opener Brad Hodge, who took one for 23 from his part-time spin and top-scored with 35 off 39.


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