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Coach Perry bows out – with pride

Post Office Hotel Wairarapa coach Neil Perry leaves the role with a heavy heart after his side finished a credible fourth in the Central Districts’ Chapple Cup tournament in Levin on Sunday.

Perry confirmed he was standing down as coach after eight years and that the weekend’s tournament, which was changed to T20 games instead of the traditional one-day games because of the disruption caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, would be his final in charge.

Wairarapa made the second-tier Cave Cup final against Taranaki after a loss to Manawatu and a thrilling victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti on Saturday, and a confident defeat of Marlborough on Sunday morning.

In the final, Wairarapa were well in the hunt after restricting Taranaki to 126-9, with Quinn Childs [2-38], Ethan Childs [2-20], and Samuel Payne [2-8] the best of the bowlers.

However, the batters were unable to repeat their batting heroics of previous games and fell 21 runs short, with only loan player Bayley Latter [56] and Mark Steventon [20] reaching double figures.

Perry was thrilled with the turnaround after the heavy loss to Manawatu, who went on to win the Chapple Cup in convincing fashion, saying that the team got better and better with each game.

The last-ball victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti, where Wairarapa chased down 181-6 was particularly pleasing for Perry. The team produced a stunning comeback from an unlikely position, with 93 runs needed off the last seven overs, 64 off the last four overs, and 13 runs off the final over. A brilliant 22-ball 60no to wicketkeeper Nathan Elliott steered the side to the verge of victory, before Robbie Speers hit a six off the final ball to clinch the win.

“The guys were fantastic. It was an amazing performance, and I was really pleased for them,” Perry said.

“From a coaching perspective, you want to win games. Sometimes you play really well and don’t get what you deserve, and as a coach, you’re always looking for how we’re learning and how we’re growing, but the results are important for them because I want them to achieve and feel good about themselves, and I was delighted for the guys.”

Wairarapa followed the win over Horowhenua-Kapiti with what Perry described as a professional performance over Marlborough, chasing down the target of 117-6 with five balls to spare, with Elliott again impressing with an unbeaten 20.

“We did everything the way we wanted to, with intensity, with the plans, and you could see we were doing that, and it was really a complete performance that, and again Nathan came in and finished it off beautifully.

“Nathan was just outstanding. He finished two games off, and he just didn’t hit runs; he marshalled the game really well.”

In Sunday afternoon’s final, Perry said Wairarapa worked hard but just couldn’t quite close out the victory.

“In the final we bowled really well, fielded brilliantly and caught some stunning catches, but unfortunately, we couldn’t quite get there; the pitch was slowing up a bit, and they bowled and fielded really well.”

Perry said many of their plans worked over the two days, including the captaincy, with Robbie Anderson and Gus Borren sharing the role.

“Robbie captained really well on Saturday, and I thought Gus was exceptional on Sunday. We always knew he had a good cricket brain from a long time ago, but to lead a group of rep players when you’re so young takes a lot, and people bought in, and he was really good.”

Overall though, Perry was “super excited” about the way the team played and felt that fourth was a pretty good result.

“To do that with everything that’s been going on with Cyclone Gabrielle, you don’t realise how close it was because everybody knows someone who has lost a lot, so to go over there and do that after a tough season as well was fantastic. It makes it even harder to walk away.”

BRIEF SCORES

Cave Cup Final: Taranaki 126-9 [Robbie Yule 31, Jarred Cunningham 22; Quinn Childs 2-38, Ethan Childs 2-20, Samuel Payne 2-8] beat Wairarapa 105 [Bayley Latter 56, Mark Steventon 20; Michael Blanks 4-21] by 21 runs.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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