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Bush Pigs Clinch Commanding Win, Sharks Edge Saints, and Tafea Dominate Bulls as Semifinals Approach


Paama Sharks CTW Kendrick gets caught behind by Sebastien Richard of the Mighty Saints in their clash last weekend

In an action-packed penultimate round, the North Efate Bush Pigs, Paama Sharks, and Tafea Cricket Club delivered, setting the stage for an exciting conclusion to the regular season.


The innings began with a flurry of aggressive shots from Joshua Rasu, who seemed to be in imperious form. His 41 off 18 balls, featuring five boundaries and two sixes, gave the Panthers a brisk start. However, his dismissal by Tim Cutler, stumped by Mark Hurley, triggered a mini-collapse. Suria Rajen, after a steady 10 off 10 balls, was also stumped by Hurley, this time off the bowling of R Tari.


Christopher Nasak fell for a golden duck, bowled by Cutler, putting the Panthers on the back foot at 53 for 3. Christopher Laffan then took charge, anchoring the innings with a measured 54 off 48 balls, including three boundaries and two sixes. Laffan’s innings was crucial as wickets kept falling around him. The middle order failed to capitalize on the start, with Tony Tamata and Larkson Tavesa both departing without troubling the scorers.


The lower order offered little resistance, with K Tari stumped for 1 off Aaron Strid, leaving Neto Wotu and Jamie Kaiaha to add some valuable runs. Wotu’s 14 off 26 provided a semblance of stability, but the total of 134 seemed below par on a good batting surface. The Bush Pigs’ bowlers were disciplined, with Tim Cutler and R Tari picking up two wickets each, and Aaron Strid and Richard Barnes chipping in with a wicket apiece.


Chasing 135, the North Efate Bush Pigs exhibited composure and confidence from the outset. Captain Ronald Tari, the current MVP leader, anchored the innings with a brilliant unbeaten 56 off 45 balls, demonstrating his class and consistency. Tari’s innings, studded with four boundaries and three sixes, was a masterclass in pacing a chase.


Despite losing Aaron Strid early for 7, bowled by Joshua Rasu, and John Conneley for 15, caught by Rasu off Tony Tamata, the Bush Pigs never looked in trouble. Tim Cutler, who had shone with the ball earlier, continued his excellent form with the bat. His explosive 42 not out off 27 balls, featuring four boundaries and two sixes, ensured the Bush Pigs maintained a healthy run rate throughout the chase.


The Panthers' bowlers struggled to make further inroads. Joshua Rasu (1 for 34) and Tony Tamata (1 for 19) were the only wicket-takers. Suria Rajen, Neto Wotu, and Christopher Laffan failed to contain the Bush Pigs’ batsmen, conceding runs at a brisk pace.


With this victory, the North Efate Bush Pigs solidified their second position on the table, moving confidently towards the semifinals. The Tusker Panthers, meanwhile, will need to regroup and address their inconsistencies as they prepare for their final round match, which will be crucial for their standings.


In the 2nd match of the round and in a thrilling contest, the Paama Sharks edged out the Mighty Saints by 18 runs, securing their semifinal spot.


The innings began on a shaky note for the Sharks, with captain Jamal Vira falling for a golden duck, caught by Sebas Richard off the bowling of Nalin Nipiko. The early wickets of CTW Kendrick and Jordy Fred further compounded their troubles, leaving the Sharks at 18 for 4.


Obed Yosef and Vince Vira attempted to rebuild, but their partnership was short-lived. Yosef’s 27 off 32 balls, including three boundaries and a six, was the highest score for the Sharks, showcasing some resilience in the face of disciplined bowling. Vince Vira’s 8 off 9 balls, featuring two boundaries, added some stability but was not enough to lift the team significantly.


The turning point came with Brennan Meyer’s aggressive 30 off 23 balls, highlighted by four boundaries and a six. Meyer’s counter-attacking innings provided much-needed momentum, supported by Waane Sirovulu’s 9 off 10 balls and SI Sandy’s 17 off 18 balls. The lower order’s contributions, alongside 20 extras, pushed the Sharks to a modest yet competitive total.


Nalin Nipiko was the standout bowler for the Saints, claiming 1 for 10 in his four-over spell, maintaining an impressive economy rate. Mac Millan Markia and Chad Natuoivi also shone, each picking up three wickets and applying constant pressure on the Sharks’ batting lineup. John Amos’s 2 for 15 further bolstered the Saints’ bowling effort, restricting the Sharks to 121 for 9.


Chasing 122, the Mighty Saints stumbled early, losing Sebas Richard for a duck, caught behind off Waane Sirovulu. Junior Alfred Carlot and Darren Banga also fell cheaply, leaving the Saints reeling at 25 for 4. The Sharks’ bowlers capitalized on the early breakthroughs, maintaining a tight grip on the match.


A crucial moment came when Nalin Nipiko, who looked set to steady the chase, was run out by a sharp piece of fielding from William Laumae and Jamal Vira. Nipiko’s dismissal for 10 off 8 balls, just as he was beginning to settle in, was a significant blow to the Saints' hopes, epitomizing the Sharks' keen fielding effort.


Karl Ricky provided a glimmer of hope with a spirited 42 off 25 balls, including two boundaries and three sixes. His aggressive approach briefly threatened to take the game away from the Sharks, but his dismissal by Justin Sarginson, was a crucial turning point. Neil Malosu tried to anchor the innings with an unbeaten 23 off 24 balls, but the wickets continued to tumble at the other end.


Obed Yosef was the pick of the bowlers for the Sharks, delivering a match-winning performance with figures of 4 for 8 in his four-over spell. His disciplined bowling, along with crucial wickets from Justin Sarginson and Brennan Meyer, ensured the Saints could not mount a successful chase. Meyer’s 2 for 13 and Sarginson’s 2 for 18 added to the Saints’ woes, wrapping up the innings for 103 in 18.3 overs


In the final match of the round and In a display of sheer dominance, Tafea Cricket Club crushed Splashe Mele Bulls by ten wickets, maintaining their unbeaten streak.


Opting to bat first, the Splashe Mele Bulls were left reeling under a relentless bowling attack from Tafea Sandalwood. The innings got off to a disastrous start with captain Rashid Bangalulu falling for a golden duck, bowled by Darren Wotu. This early breakthrough set the tone for the innings, with J Chilia and Amjed Bangalulu also dismissed without scoring, both falling victim to the disciplined Wotu.


Malon Tastuki attempted to stabilize the innings with a fighting 15 off 17 balls, but his dismissal by Wamejo Wotu further dented the Bulls' hopes. Charlie Agum and Jacky Matautotau tried to rebuild, scoring 2 and 14 respectively, but the wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals. Williamsing Nalisa’s twin strikes, removing Matautotau and Banoi Bong (17 off 24), further decimated the Bulls' lineup.


The lower order offered minimal resistance, with the Bulls folding for a paltry 81 in 16.3 overs. Darren Wotu, Wamejo Wotu, and Rodrick Lekai shared the spoils, with Wamejo and Lekai picking up three wickets each. The disciplined bowling performance, coupled with some sharp fielding, left the Bulls with a mountain to climb.


Chasing a modest target, Tafea Sandalwood made light work of the Bulls' total. Williamsing Nalisa played an explosive innings, scoring an unbeaten 64 off just 28 balls, decorated with four boundaries and five towering sixes. His aggressive approach ensured that the chase was never in doubt, as he took the attack to the Bulls' bowlers from the outset.


Junior Nirua provided solid support, remaining not out on 18 off 11 balls, striking three boundaries in the process. The opening pair's unbroken partnership of 85 runs off just 7 overs showcased their dominance and ability to chase down targets with ease. The Bulls' bowlers had no answers to the onslaught, with Rashid Bangalulu, J Chilia, Jacky Matautotau, and Amjed Bangalulu all failing to make any impact.


STANDINGS TABLE:

Standings

Team

Pld

W

L

T

Abd

Pts

NRR

1

Tafea Cricket Club

9

9

0

0

0

18.0

+4.140

2

9

6

2

0

1

13.0

+2.530

3

9

4

4

0

1

9.0

-0.635

4

9

2

4

0

3

7.0

-0.544

5

9

2

7

0

0

4.0

-2.016

6

9

1

7

0

1

3.0

-3.337

MVP LADDER:

Rank

Player

Club

Matches

Batting

Bowling

Fielding

Overall

1

North Efate Bush Pigs

8

47.88

23.57

10.71

82.18

2

Tafea Cricket Club

9

35.4

37.32

8.97

81.70

3

Tafea Cricket Club

9

36.87

34.31

5.07

76.26


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