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Giants out to celebrate 25 years

Jesse Neumann … one of the young guns in the Giants Red squad. PHOTOS/FILE

SOFTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Over the 25 years of hosting the Kuripuni Tavern Classic, the Giants have an impressive record in the tournament.

But club president Chris Feary is predicting a tough fight to retain their title this weekend.

Giants regained the trophy last year after Railways took the honours in 2020. Before that Giants had lifted the trophy for six straight years.

Feary said the home side won’t have an easy time in the masters’ age tournament, which has attracted arguably the best field of eight teams for several years.

Six Hutt Valley clubs – Railways, Dodgers, Cardinals, Steelers, Totara Park, and Demons – and Palmerston North’s Kingswood have put their entries in.

Giants Red, who this month stepped up from the Hutt Valley President’s Grade to the Intercity Premier Three Championship, will represent the host club.

Willy Waitere, in top form at the 2021 Kuripuni Tavern Classic.

Their powerhouse batting line-up includes big hitters Matt Kawana, Gordon Wilmshurst, the Waitere brothers – Willy and Terry – complemented by promising youngsters Riley Hanson, Jesse Neumann, Thomas Kawana, and Julian Ellmers.

The pitching duties will be shared by the vastly experienced Tony Nixon, who is likely to start most games, backed up by Feary, who was outstanding on the mound in last Saturday’s 14-1 win over Totara Park Gold in the first round of Intercity Premier Three.

Although Giants are expected to be among the frontrunners, Feary said Steelers and Dodgers are two teams in the right sort of form to challenge for top honours.

Steelers lead the Hutt Valley president’s grade with six wins from seven games, and Dodgers defeated Giants 8-6 in the first competition round in October. Kingswood invariably turn up with a strong squad of experienced players, many of them former provincial representatives.

Adding to the uncertainty, teams are often boosted with the inclusion of pick-up players from other clubs, in some cases former internationals and representatives.

Giants, Railways, Cardinals, and Totara Park comprise one group, with Kingswood, Demons, Cardinals, and Steelers in the second group.

The home side and Totara Park will get the tournament under way at 10am Saturday, with the last game to start at 3pm. The semifinals and final will be played on Sunday.

The frustrating start to Intercity Premier Three continues for Giants Blue, with their away game with Kapiti Coast deferred because of Wellington Anniversary Weekend tournaments.

It is the second weekend in a row that the team haven’t had a game after Dodgers Black defaulting last weekend’s scheduled fixture.

In Hutt Valley Major B Women, Giants are favoured to record their fifth win of the championship, away on Saturday to Dodgers Divas, who are languishing at the bottom of the table with just one win.

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