Sean Davey took to the top seven Firebirds wickets in another blinder | PHOTOSPORT

Sean Davey speccy! Sensational bag and 11 wickets in the match




Mainpower Oval, Rangiora

21-24 March, 2023



First innings points:

Canterbury 2 batting, 4 bowling

Wellington Firebirds 4 bowling, 0 batting

Total points this round: Canterbury 18, Wellington Firebirds 4


Jesse Tashkoff: First-class debut

Rhys Mariu: maiden first-class century


Matt Boyle: career best score

Sean Davey: third first-class five-wicket bag

Sean Davey: career best bowling (7/25)

Sean Davey: Best match analysis

Sean Davey: maiden 10 wickets in a match

Callum McLachlan: maiden first-class century

Cam Fletcher: equalled Canterbury record for most dismissals in an innings (6, shared with Michael Papps and Lee Germon)



Canterbury headed into their final Plunket Shield match of the 2022/23 season holding a vulnerable four-point lead on the table, having just been beaten by the Stags at the same ground.

It was the first time in years that they had suffered an outright loss at their usually fortress-like Rangiora outpost. Could they now maximise their chances of capturing the coveted trophy - knowing two rivals had a match in hand - with a crunch win against the Firebirds in their last red-ball round of the season?

Wellington Firebirds captain Nick Kelly won the toss and bowled on the first morning to make use of the early conditions. Despite a couple of quick breakthroughs from Michael Snedden, with opener Mitch Hay and McConchie both gone at 51/2 in the 14th, it turned into a good start for the hosts.

Playing on his Canterbury Country home turf, former NZ Under 19 star, 21-year-old Rhys Mariu carried on to reach his maiden first-class century.

Forming a partnership with Leo Carter (49), he'd batted through the first session to reach lunch on 68*, and kept going through the rain-interrupted middle session to reach the 90s for the first time (having come into the match with an unbeaten 78* from his three previous appearances).

But it would be a lengthy wait in the nervous nineties, with the teams unable to get back on for the last session, and Mariu poised to resume on the second morning on 91*, with Canterbury 175/3 after just 44 overs of play.


It was a dramatic day's cricket for Canterbury with both bat and ball, as both teams looked to make up for lost time on opening day. The action-packed second day would serve to speed things up for Canterbury, putting them in the frame for the outright they so keenly wanted to shore up their position on the ladder.

The remarkable Sean Davey would be the star with the ball, but first it was the batters' turn with the young Mariu carrying on from his overnight 91 not out to reach his maiden first-class ton off 155 balls, with a dozen boundaries.

He reached 112 before James Hartshorn picked up his second big wicket in the innings, having removed Leo Carter just shy of a half century on the previous afternoon.

Another relatively fresh face in the home team, Matt Boyle would also go on to a career best knock - on the same day that his elder brother Jack scored his first century for the Central Stags - with the tall, younger Boyle reaching 59 after two hours of toil.

But after the quick loss of both Cam Fletcher and Boyle to Luke Georgeson, Peter Younghusband spun in to finish the Canterbury innings in a hurry. From 256/6 at the loss of Boyle, the hosts collapsed to be all out for 294 after tea, with Younghusband finishing with 4/50 for the out of contention Firebirds.

It was a key moment in the competition, Canterbury missing out on two batting bonus points that may yet prove to be pivotal to the standings.

Yet by the end of the day, Canterbury was right back in the game after yet another five-wicket bag in the sensational, if intermittent, career of paceman Sean Davey.

Playing just his 10th first-class match, Davey already had two outstanding five-wicket bags. He'd bagged an outstanding 5/19 in just his third Plunket Shield appearance, at this same ground against the Stags in 2021. Then he'd taken 5/23 against the Firebirds at the start of this season at the Basin, and now raced to another against the same side.

By stumps, the shellshocked Firebirds were 55/5, while Davey sat on stunning overnight figures of 5/9. Three of his victims had been caught behind, the other pair caught by Leo Carter - including promising youngster Muhammad Abbas, off the last ball of the day.

The Firebirds still trailed by 239.


Human wrecking ball Davey picked up from where he had left off the previous evening, taking another two wickets inside the first four overs of the penultimate morning - all seven of the top seven Cantabrians in his pocket.

But just as pundits dared to suggest he might be on for all 10, captain McConchie made a double change to give Ed Nuttall and Fraser Sheat a crack.

Nuttall (2/31) struck with just his third delivery of the day to remove Younghusband, then added Snedden towards the end of his spell.

Through it all, Firebirds keeper-batsman Callum McLachlan was fighting hard for his team, having resumed with a start on 18* in the morning. He'd reached 50 off 72 balls, and now was favouring attack as the best means of defence as the wickets in hand began to dry up.

With a previous best of 73 from six matches, the 23-year-old went on to reach a defiant maiden century with a single on the stroke of lunch - having already taken 11 off the Blake Coburn over.

He had rocketed to three figures with a couple of sixes to go with his nine boundaries, the ton off just 116 balls. But the resistance would just as quickly be over after lunch, Fraser Sheat striking to remove McLachlan for no further addition second ball after the break, and the Firebirds all out for 145.

Canterbury had recovered superbly to hold a 149-run first innings lead, and were also now in a position to dictate terms on moving day. But they will have been gutted to miss out on enforcing the follow on by just a solitary run - the same single that McLachlan had found to reach his maiden century.

Mariu again got the hosts off to a strong start at the top, backing up his own maiden ton with a second-innings 66 off 96 balls in a 145-run opening stand with the capable Mitch Hay.

Hay went on to top-score with 81 before he, too, fell to Younghusband at 181/2. Cole McConchie, Leo Carter and Matt Boyle all chipped in during the last session before McConchie declared at 217/4.

The Firebirds now needed to find 367 runs to avert defeat, with three and a bit sessions left in the match and their season. By stumps, Davey had taken his eighth wicket for the match but Luke Georgeson held on for an hour and half, set to resume on 29* with the Firebirds needing 328 from the final day.


With results looking likely in all three eighth-round matches, the pressure remained on Canterbury to get the job done on the final day of their season if they were to put one hand on the Shield.

They needed nine wickets to do that, and by lunch they had their quarry 126/5 with Sean Davey once again in the wickets column.

Having taken a seven-for from the first innings, the 29-year-old needed only a further three strikes to claim his maiden haul of 10 for a match, and he did that before the break when he dismissed Firebirds skipper Nick Kelly for the second time in the game, trapping him at 48/4. 

Will O'Rourke and Fraser Sheat (the latter claiming first innings centurion and thorn in Canterbury's side, Callum McLachlan on 24) struck as well, increasing the burden on steely young number five batsman Muhammad Abbas to hold the fort, to try to save the match for his side.

Debutant Jesse Tashkoff, who had suffered a first-inning duck, was relieved to get off the mark and made it to 28 before shouldering arms against Sheat and watching his off-stump pinged out of its desired situation: 126/6, with just four more bottles on the wall for Canterbury and the Firebirds still with more than 200 runs to conjure.

Abbas would go on to top-score with 82, but even he could not escape Davey's clutches - the paceman finishing with 4/41, and 11 wickets for the match as Canterbury nailed the outright victory they had wanted.

With 18 points from the match, now all they could do was sit and wait to see whether it would be enough.






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