Josh Clarkson | PHOTOSPORT

Stags surge against vanquished Volts

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CENTRAL STAGS defeated OTAGO VOLTS by 82 runs

Bonus point win

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth

Central Stags 5 points



A Ford Trophy bonus-point win pushed defending champion the Central Stags back up the table after a team effort in testing conditions at Pukekura Park - setting up a tilt for the top of the table in the last round before Christmas.

After a week of cool and rainy weather about the North Island, conditions weren't the easiest for batting in the fourth-round clashes, and Volts captain Dean Foxcroft had no hesitation in sending in his old team once he won the toss.

The Stags were unchanged since their second-round win at the same ground against Canterbury, and again used their cricket intelligence to squeeze a good score in the circumstances out of a tough contest.

Allrounder Will Clark carried on his good form with his second half century in a row at Pukekura, having not had a chance to get on the park dur to a washout in the intervening round.

His unbeaten, run-a-ball 57 at six wasn't pretty, but it was pretty effective as the Stags regrouped and picked up some momentum after a wobble in the middle order.

Anchor Brad Schmulian had got the side underway with a half century at the top, but Jack Boyle never looked comfortable and became Luke Georgeson's first victim at 19/1 in the 11th over.

Travis Muller then struck two big blows, dismissing Curtis Heaphy (who had also scored a half century here in the previous game) and captain Dane Cleaver in quick succession, and later he came back for Schmulian.

On the day he was named in a BLACKCAPS squad for the first time, Josh Clarkson got a start with a quick cameo of 28 runs but both he and Schmulian would be gone by the 30-over mark, and the Stags had to start again with two batters on zero.

Clark and Bayley Wiggins (35) were up to it, and put on 53 together before Ben Lockrose had Wiggins caught behind then struck twice in his follow-up over.

Now the hosts were 177/8 heading into the death overs with any total less than 200 considered a crime at Pukekura Park. But Otago's Dr. Death Jacob Duffy, Muller and Matt Bacon weren't going to have the upper hand as they tried to wrap things up.

Instead dedicated tailender Blair Tickner (21) almost reached his career high score as he set about supporting Clark and setting a new ninth wicket record partnership of 50, on the nose, for matches between these two sides in List A cricket.

Clark had ensured the Stags did not get bowled out, and the buffer of runs would prove to be very useful after they made a brilliant start with the ball in reply.

Tickner had 2/4 early doors as he dismissed Georgeson and Dale Phillips in the first handful of overs; meanwhile veteran Hamish Rutherford came up short against Bevan Small with Tickner taking the catch.

At 21/3 in the seventh, the heat went on captain Foxcroft and in-form youngster Thorn Parkes to steady the ship, but they were made to work hard for their 26-run stand by Clarkson, Ray Toole and Tickner who relished the conditions.

Toole got Foxcroft before too long and struck again in his following over, leaving Parkes (26) with a big salvage job to do from 58/5.

He and Max Chu (35) built a partnership but Will Clark broke it in the 24th over, and from there the Volts' backs were to the wall. Tickner had bowled superbly throughout and now Clarkson (3/37) came into his own with the ball as the tail tried to hang on, finishing with a few wounds to the pride in the 40th over.

The bonus point win for the Stags sets up a tantalising contest next Tuesday in Whangārei where former leader Northern Districts had meanwhile been Finn-Allened for their first loss of the summer. The Auckland Aces were now the competition leader on 12 points, with the Stags and ND right behind them and level on 11 points.

The Volts meanwhile will head to Invercargill to host Canterbury in the last one-day round before Dream11 Super Smash begins.






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