Brock Price . . . main scalp for Horowhenua-Kapiti. PHOTO/FILE
Horowhenua-Kapiti will pose a formidable challenge for Wairarapa in their Furlong Cup cricket fixture at Donnelly Park, Levin over the weekend.
After a first innings loss to Manawatu in their opening match and then outright defeat by Hawke’s Bay, the home team got a much-needed boost of confidence with an outright victory over Wanganui.
This third-round win saw them move into fifth place on the overall standings with 20 points, six more than Wairarapa.
A sometime member of the Central Stags squad in pace bowler Ryan McCone was devastating with the new ball when Wanganui chased 274 runs for maximum points.
In five blistering overs, McCone finished with the hugely impressive figures of 4-6 and Wanganui never recovered, being dismissed for just 128.
Supporting McCone well at the bowling crease was Dion Sanson who put down 20 overs on the trot and took 2-56 and Connor Beleski who took 2-6.
Earlier in the game, it was Tharaka Waduge who grabbed the limelight when Horowhenua-Kapiti began their second innings with a 60-run deficit.
Waduge cracked 16 fours and two sixes in a brilliant knock of 117 and with Ryan Taylor  was involved in a 140-run partnership which led the way for Horowhenua-Kapiti to declare at a healthy 334-7.
This outright win for Horowhenua-Kapiti, which incidentally came with only 10 minutes to spare, was their first for four years.
They will be keen to prove it was no fluke by backing up with another strong effort against a Wairarapa squad missing five of the players who were part of their shock first innings win over Manawatu in their last Cup encounter — Seth Rance, Mark Childs, George Deans, Peter Sigvertsen and Jake McIntyre.
Wairarapa’s chances could largely depend on how their top order batting responds to the pressure applied on them.
With Rathkeale College pupil John McKenzie sure to be one opener and a couple of his schoolmates in Ethan Childs and Anthony Sprowson vying for the other spot, the Horowhenua-Kapiti “quickies” are sure to test these young and still relatively inexperienced batsmen with the rising delivery, the intent being to bring Wairarapa’s most prolific scorers — Liam Burling, Brock Price and Daniel Ingham — to the crease while the shine is still very much on the ball.
It will, of course, be Price who will be targeted as the main scalp by the home team.
He has been in such a rich vein of batting form, including centuries against Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu, that it’s become hard to imagine Wairarapa reaching a respectable scoreline without a massive contribution from him.
Another three-figure effort here — or at least close to it — and you’d have to think that elevation to Central Stags status in the not-too-distant future would be within his compass.
For the Wairarapa attack, the emphasis will be on maintaining a consistent line and length and one suspects that both Stefan Hook-Sporry and spinner Quinn Childs can anticipate heavy workloads in this game.
Hook-Sporry is the only bowler in the Wairarapa line-up who would qualify as being more than medium in pace and the onus will be fairly and squarely on him to make early inroads into the Horowhenua-Kapiti batting order while Childs will be wanting to build on the impressive form he showed for the Central Districts Under-19s at their national tourney.