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Pride on line in final game

Stefan Hook contemplates his next delivery against Horowhenua-Kapiti. Hook will captain Wairarapa for the first time against Taranaki. PHOTOS/CHRIS COGDALE


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Post Office Hotel Wairarapa are determined to come away with a positive result in their final Furlong Cup two-day fixture of the season against Taranaki starting today in New Plymouth.

Little is riding on the game originally scheduled for November but postponed because of positive covid-19 cases in Taranaki.

Wairarapa languishes at the bottom of the Furlong Cup points table on 21 points, with Whanganui on 24, and Taranaki on 28. With 16 points up for grabs over the two days, Wairarapa can move into fourth.

Manawatu, 61 points, have already won the Furlong Cup and will challenge Hawke’s Bay for the Hawke Cup, with Hawke’s Bay second on 59 and Horowhenua-Kapiti third on 40 points.

Instead of the original venue of Francis Douglas Memorial College, the match is now at Taranaki’s traditional home, the picturesque Pukekura Park, a move which pleased Wairarapa coach Neil Perry.

“Everybody loves playing at ‘Puke’, and it’s probably my favourite ground where I’ve been lucky enough to play or coach on. It’s just stunning and gives everybody a lift. It’s just one of those places that people love to go to,” Perry said.

With captain Gordon Reisima, medium-pacer Pete Sigvertsen, and wicketkeeper Paddy Gluck unavailable, there are three changes to the Wairarapa side who took first innings points but lost outright to Horowhenua-Kapiti last weekend,

All three will be a big loss, with Reisima in good batting form with 79 against Horowhenua-Kapiti, as was Gluck with a handy 27.

Sigvertsen was an ideal foil for strike bowler Stefan Hook, who became Wairarapa’s all-time leading Hawke Cup wicket-taker with 11 wickets in the match.

Middle-order batter Jaco Vorster, who scored his first representative century in his last outing against Whanganui, returns to the side, along with opener Robbie Anderson and medium-pacer Sean Wakelin, who has claimed eight wickets at an average of 18.75 in his three representative outings.

Promising Wairarapa College all-rounder Samuel Payne, who had limited opportunities on debut last weekend, gets another chance to gain experience at senior representative level.

Hook will captain the side for the first time in the absence of Reisima, a move which coach Neil Perry said is just reward for the strike bowler in his 44th Hawke Cup match for the district.

“He’s a cricketer with lots of experience and has achieved a lot in the game, and I think it’s a nice opportunity to let him have that honour,” Perry said.

Nathan Elliott, left, has been handed the wicketkeeping duties against Taranaki.

Nathan Elliott has a rare opportunity to showcase his wicketkeeping skills, and he would have taken a lot of confidence from scoring his first representative half-century against Horowhenua-Kapiti.

Despite the disappointment of losing outright last weekend to Horowhenua-Kapiti after setting a challenging target of 278 off 39 overs,

Perry said there is a very good feel in the team.

“We discussed the last game, and obviously, we were disappointed with the result but nothing that we did. We took the risk that we were prepared to gamble, and we thought the rewards were worth it, but it didn’t come off, and maybe we’ll think twice about doing the same thing this game.

“We’ll look to put together a good batting performance, then bowl in good areas and take our opportunities.”

Like Wairarapa, Taranaki have had an up-and-down campaign, with an outright loss by an innings against Hawke’s Bay, a first innings loss to Manawatu, and a first innings win over Whanganui, although Perry is reading little into those results.

“Taranaki are always a tough hard side, and there’s no such thing as a dead rubber in cricket, and there are always personal and team values in playing well and winning, so they’ll come out hard.

“They’ve not had the best of seasons, they’ve struggled a little bit, but they will come out determined to finish on a high and win a game of cricket, just as we do.

“I’ve faced them in various formats, and various sports — football, rugby, cricket and they never give an inch, so it will be exactly the same.

“We’ll have to on our mettle, play to our best and if we do that, we’ll come away with a good result.”

Wairarapa team: Stefan Hook [captain], Gus Borren, Jake Jonas, Jared van Deventer, Andy Dodd, Jaco Vorster, Robbie Anderson, Jack Forrester, Jeremy Anderson, Nathan Elliott [wk], Samuel Payne, Sean Wakelin.

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