The misery of the Devon Hotel Central Stags continued today when they registered their sixth loss of a winless season against a dominant Otago Volts side at Pukekura Park.
On a surface with good carry and pace, the Volts' attack quickly made the hosts pay for choosing to bat first, James McMillan trapping pro Josh Cobb, who had been promoted to open, first ball of the innings.
Fellow pro Peter Trego was in the shed next over, falling to a brilliant catch by Nick Beard - who scampered from square leg to midwicket and dived low to his left to give a disciplined Jacob Duffy the first of his three wickets. Four down inside seven overs, once again the Stags' top order had not been able to lay a foundation for a substantial total.
The battle of the innings came as captain Kieran Noema-Barnett was forced to take on an efficient Ryan ten Doeschate - eventually casting off his restraints to take consecutive sixes off the Volts' pro, his 52 coming from just 36 balls. He added a much-needed 60 runs for the sixth wicket with a free-swinging Doug Bracewell, who then carried on the blast 21 runs off 10 balls at the death with Adam Milne, the biggest of his three sixes landing in the trees on top of the western terrace.
A tally of 147 for nine never seemed quite enough to threaten the Volts, however. Aaron Redmond (32 off 18) struck three sixes off spinner Marty Kain's first over, which went for 21 runs. Rutherford likewise made a confident beginning before ten Doeschate and Derek de Boorder combined in an unbeaten 72-run partnership, ten Doeschate posting his half century as he clinically drove the winning run down the ground with two and a half overs to spare.
The reply had not been without drama, ten Doeschate surviving a highly confident appeal for a caught and bowled against Kain in the 14th over - when the Volts were on Nelson's, surviving again next ball when the umpires decided against giving him run out. He celebrated by slapping consecutive sixes off the luckless spinner, blows from which the Stags could not recover as the Volts cruised to a seven-wicket victory and, once more, the top end of the points table.
The Stags will host their fourth match at Pukekura Park against the Wizards on 7 January, while the Volts return home to face the Hell Wellington Firebirds, also riding high on 20 points, on 8 January.