Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Evergreens given challenging draw

Wairarapa have been dealt a tough draw for the National Evergreens Tournament starting today in Pukekohe and cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to make the top eight.

The tournament for masters-aged players has been extended to 20 teams, split into five groups of four, with eight teams to progress to the quarterfinals.

That’s where it gets tricky for Wairarapa. Whereas in the past, a top-two finish in the group was enough to progress, now the top team from each pool will qualify along with the three best second-placed teams.

Wairarapa start their campaign this morning against old foes Hutt Valley, followed by a midday clash with Whanganui and their final round-robin game against Hawke’s Bay at 4.30 pm.

Should they top the group, Wairarapa would meet the winner of Group D, which features Auckland, Southland, North Harbour and Combined Services. If they were to finish second, their opponent would be the winner of Pool A, B, or C, depending on the final standings and possibly runs for and against differentials of the runners-up in the other pools.

Coach Russell Kawana said they would target Whanganui, probably the weakest team in the group, as a game to push for a big score and build a substantial runs differential, with Hutt Valley and Hawke’s Bay likely to provide sterner opposition.

Wairarapa are missing some key players from the team that finished fifth in 2023, including power batters Gordon Wilmshurst, Blair Thompson, and Matt Kawana. However, they have picked up former Black Sox Michael Foote from Hutt Valley to boost their batting lineup.

There is plenty of experience on the mound with Justin ‘Chunky’ Karaitiana and Tony Nixon to handle the bulk of the pitching duties, with backup from Chris Feary.

With most of the Wairarapa squad from the Giants club, the premier two and three sides have the byes in their Hutt Valley championship games.

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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