Saints on course for national title defence

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Reece van Staden (19*) and Nathan van Staden (5*) embrace each other after leading Saints 1st XI to a three- wicket victory over Grey College, with a dejected Michael Kershaw looking on. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

Saint Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein is on course to defend their 2018 National Schools T20 title after winning the Free State leg of the competition on Sunday in Bloemfontein.
The tournament, which featured six teams, was hosted by Saints, and they truly made the best of their home field advance to coast through the weekend’s fixtures unbeaten.

Their only real test of the tournament was during the final against their close rivals, Grey College, and it was without a doubt the most eagerly anticipated match on the Bloemfontein schools’ cricket calendar for the season, and it sure did live up to expectation.

Grey won the toss and elected to bat first at Vossie Field and were in heaps of trouble early at 8/4, thanks to tight bowling by the spin pair, Pheko Moletsane and Naleli Sekhibane, and this was combined with some rather average shot selection. Grey rebuilt their innings somewhat, however, two further wickets left them reeling at 42/6 before a knock of 33* by Dean de Bruin and 35 by Juan Dee Olivier helped the visitors to a somewhat defendable 96/7 in their allotted 20 overs. Moletsane was the pick of the Saints bowlers with a brilliant 3/7 in his four overs.

Henré Koekemoer got Saints off to a strong start with 9 runs in the first over, however, Christean Neethling bowled him out with the last ball. Rikus Allen followed Koekemoer back into the hut just one run later after being stumped off the bowling of Michael Kershaw. Ruan Cronjé was just starting to build a good innings and partnership with Corné Viljoen before he was caught for 16.

This visibly lifted the spirits in the Grey camp, and it was definitely a matter of Game on! Saints did play the smarter game with the bat in hand and opted to pick off the singles and sent the odd bad ball to the boundary.

It came down to the wire with Saints needing seven runs for the win off the last over. Reece van Staden and Nathan van der Nest remained level headed to see their team over the line with three balls to spare. Van Staden’s 19* was the top score for Saints, followed by the 16 scored by Cronjé. De Bruin was the pick of the Grey bowlers with his left-arm spinners, and he recorded figures on 2/12 in four overs. The only real difference between the two sides was the bowling discipline by Saints and they conceded just four extras, as opposed to the 17 by Grey.

Saints have one more hurdle to clear before they can think about heading to Pretoria for the national finals. On 8 March they will be hosting Northern Cape High School, and the winner of this match will be the VKB Knights representative in the capital city.

Results:

Goudveld High School 120/6 (D Smith 30) vs Grey College 124/4 (D Beukes 40, M de Kock 37) – Grey College won by 6 wickets.

Goudveld High School 118/9 (T Plank 2/15) vs Hub Kroonstad School 93 all out (S Prinsloo 3/21) – Goudveld won by 25 runs.

Grey College 257/5 (D Beukes 133*, M Fouché 48, T Tlaeli 2/45) vs Hub Kroonstad School 90/6 (L Lekhobo 43*, M Kershaw 2/15) – Grey College won by 167 runs.

St Andrew’s 205/6 (C Viljoen 68, R van Staden 45*, R Jansen van Rensburg 2/26) vs Sasolburg High School 105/6 (L Loubser 34, E Deetlefs 33*, N Sekhibane 4/7) – St Andrew’s won by 100 runs.

St Andrews 246/2 (R Cronje 100*, C Viljoen 58*, H Koekemoer 56) vs Hoërskool Voortrekker 70/7 (V Nel 25*, R Alexander 2/7) – St Andrew’s won by 176 runs.

Hoërskool Voortrekker 175/6 (H Classen 61, H Smit 39) vs Sasolburg High 87 all out (E Deetlefs 33, M Khan 3/17) – Voortrekker won by 88 runs.

Grey College 96/7 (J Olivier 35, D de Bruin 33*, P Moletsane 3/7) vs St Andrews 97/7 – St Andrew’s won by 3 wickets.MORGAN PIEK