Hamilton travelled up to South Auckland to take on Counties in round 2 of the Fergus Hickey competition and were looking for an improved performance after last weekend’s thrilling 2 wicket win over Northland.

Counties won the toss on another hot, sticky day and had no hesitation in batting first. Openers Varcoe and Marconi battled through the opening hour against  some testing bowling from Nick Farrell and Cooper Rowell. With lunch just around the corner Farrell in his 2nd spell picked up the much needed  wicket having Counties captain Varcoe(43 off 90) edge a delivery to Whitley with the score on 71.

As in the previous game Hamilton came out hunting wickets after lunch and Freddy Walker delivered, dismissing the patient M Marconi (33 off 131) with a leading edge to point. Josh Brown then got the wicket of Williamson,  followed by two more quickly by the impressive Farrell had Counties in a bit of trouble at 140 for 5 but a 69 run 6th wicket partnership between Sandeep Patel (65 off 103) and Leon Marconi (31 off 85) had the innings evenly poised.

With the new ball taken Farrell struck immediately, getting one to nip back and bowling the in-form Patel. Rowell was finally rewarded for his efforts in the hot sun with 3 quick wickets and Farrell finished off the Counties innings of 235  in doing so picking up his 2nd five wicket haul for Hamilton and claiming the brilliant figures of 5 for 50 off 19 overs.

Hamilton had 13 tough overs to bat until stumps, openers Elliot Santner and Alex Clare were looking solid until the experienced Scott Johnston snuck one through Santners defence with the score on 11 in the 9th over. Counties applied plenty of pressure and were rewarded with the last ball of the day when left arm spinner Kurt Barnes had Clare caught in close.

With a really good batting pitch and a fast outfield Hamilton were eyeing up 1st innings points despite the loss of the two late wickets on day one. Anish Desai (23 off 32) played positively until he top edged a hook shot off Leon Marconi. The returning Jacob Parker was caught in a similar fashion from the bowling of James Naylor and when Sajith Dhambagolla was caught behind also off Naylor it left Hamilton in a big hole at 65 for 5.

Following on from his match winning knock from the Northland game, Jack Devane came out full of confidence and counter-attacked right from the start, hitting some powerful boundaries. With wickets falling at the other end against some quality Counties bowling, Devane was eventually the last man dismissed, hitting 16 fours in his 96 off 115 balls. The young Hamilton batting lineup will look back on some pretty ordinary shots and be very disappointed being bowled out for 198. This gave Counties 1st innings by 37 runs.

Counties then came out in their 2nd innings with the thought of a possible outright result which would put them in contention for a Hawke Cup challenge. With 53 overs left in the day, quick runs were crucial and skipper Varcoe smashed Hamilton’s wary bowlers to all parts, hitting 114 not out off just 66 balls including 5 sixes. Counties declared on 202 for 5 off just 20 overs.

This left Hamilton requiring 240 off 30 overs to steal an outright win.  Their chase got off to a terrible start with Brown and the in-form Devane departing in the first two overs. A 41 run partnership between Santner and Walker kept Hamilton in the game before Santner holed out to long off. Another quick fire 43 run partnership between Walker and Parker was broken when Walker was caught for a 32 ball 45. This left the visitors requiring 146 off 17 overs, Farrell who batted 11 in the 1st innings came out and showed why he is a genuine allrounder with a brilliant knock of 75 off 52 balls including 10 fours and a six. When he was the 9th man out, Hamilton’s hopes were all but gone and despite a couple of late boundaries they were eventually bowled out for 227 with 3 balls left, losing by 12 runs.

Counties Manukau 235/10, 87.4 overs (Sandeep Patel 65, Sam Varcoe 43; Nick Farrell 5/50)
Hamilton 198/10, 60.3 overs (Jack Devane 96, Anish Desai 23; Scott Johnston 3/50)
Counties Manukau 202/5 (dec), 20 overs (Sam Varcoe 114*, Marcel Marconi 23; Freddy Walker 3/47)
Hamilton 227/10, 29.3 overs (Nick Farrell 75, Freddy Walker 45; Kurt Barnes 4/94)
Counties Manukau won by 12 runs


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