Above: Luke Woodcock batting late in innings in the HRV Cup Final in Dunedin on Sunday.
The Hell Wellington Firebirds missed out on winning a maiden HRV Cup domestic Twenty20 title, losing to Otago in the Final in Dunedin on Sunday.
Otago won by 4 wickets, chasing down Wellington’s total of 143 for 9 in the 19th over. Winning the toss and batting first, the Firebirds were on the back foot early when they lost top order batsmen Michael Pollard, Michael Papps and Cameron Borgas for ducks.
At the other end, Jesse Ryder came out swinging, but was stopped at 30 off 15 balls (including four sixes) after Ian Butler tricked him into a miscue with his first ball at the start of the sixth over. Jesse Ryder finished as by far the leading run-maker of the competition, with 584 runs at a 58.40 average and strike rate of 174.32.
Luke Ronchi offered early hope, but when he swept a long hop off spinner Nick Beard ard to the fieldsman - and then Theo Doropoulos was bowled in the same over, the Firebirds were 54 for 6.
Luke Woodcock and Harry Boam out on a 72-run partnership that lasted 11 overs - the highest 7th-wicket stand of the season. Boam made 35 off 41 balls, while Woodcock finished unbeaten on 40 off 31 balls.
A target of 144 at a required RPO of 7.20 did not seem enough on paper, yet the Firebirds knew the sheer nervous tension of the final gave them a chance. Malaesaili Tugaga added to it when he kept Neil Broom to just a two off his first over, before spinner Mark Houghton scored the big wicket of Hamish Rutherford with his first ball.
The bravery of Firebirds skipper Papps, who had kept his mid-off up inside the circle, was rewarded when Aaron Redmond, who had already belted one six over long on, was caught off the last ball of the same Houghton over to make it 8 for 2.
But opener Neil Broom (60 off 52) and Derek de Boorder (33 off 32) resurrected the run chase, moving them through to 79 for 3 in the 12th over when de Boorder was bowled by Woodcock.
The Final remained on tenderhooks when Michael Bracewell was run out for a duck, the chase stumbling from 111 for 4 to 112 for 5. It soon came down to a run a ball and Broom and Ian Butler (23 not out off 10) saw them home.