St Pat’s Town revel in cricket’s top tier tilt

St Pat’s Town are enjoying being back in the premier grade.

The Town first XI has been able to maintain the winning habit the team picked up during a year in premier two.

Town and Onslow are the only unbeaten teams after three rounds of the premier youth one-day competition.

Town knocked over defending champions Hutt International in the opening round and followed with wins over Scots and Hutt Valley last weekend.

Onslow have also claimed a couple of significant scalps, with wins over Hutt Valley, Wellington College and Silverstream.

Town did not lose a game in premier two last year and won their three grading games in the promotion-relegation series last month, to ensure a return to the top level.

Their only recent loss came in the three-day traditional against Silverstream.

“It’s been a good start and I think we’ve already had one more win than we managed in the whole season two years ago,” Town coach Clinton Johns said.

“We have been helped by a good buildup to the season. We got some good practice at a pre-season tournament in Hawke’s Bay, when all the batsmen had at least one good innings, and then we had the promotion-relegation series.

“We also lost only one player from last year’s team and that’s a big help,” Johns said. “We also bat well down the order.

“I was a bit concerned about meeting HIBS in the first round but it was probably a good thing, as there was less pressure on us.

“We played very well against HIBS, though we might have been lucky to get Troy [HIBS skipper Troy Johnson] with a full toss.”

Town are led by Zac Donaldson who recorded the first premier youth century for 2015, with 101 against Scots College on Waitangi Day.

“Zac is very talented. He hasn’t done a lot of training compared to some players, as he is also an outstanding rugby player, but he’s an athlete,” his coach said. “His technique is not textbook but he has pure natural talent.

“He’s got the hitting power for the modern game and is one of very few players in the grade who can play spin well. He can really deal to spinners.

“He’s working hard on not throwing his wicket away and we expect him to do well this year.

“He’s also playing a bigger role as an off-spinner and bowled very well into the wind [against Hutt Valley] on Sunday.”

Luke Georgeson, a left-handed opening bat and right-arm medium-pacer, was Town’s MVP last year and anchored the innings, with 62, in the win against HIBS. “He’s not a fast scorer but bats a long time,” Johns said. Jack Jacobs, Hamish Johns and Nick Howie also bat in the top order and Johns made 55 against Hutt Valley.

Opening bowler and Wellington under-17 rep Jack Anderson has to manage a back injury but spearheads the Town attack.

“Overall, our bowling strength lies in keeping things tight but Jack can go through anyone,” Johns said. “He bowls outswingers at a reasonable clip.”

Anderson, Donaldson, Zac Aldridge, who opens into the wind, and Cameron Thomson all have an economy rate of under three.

Onslow skipper Daniel Pile spun a web around the Silverstream batsmen on Sunday.

Pile, a left-arm spinner, was the leading wicket-taker at the national under-17 tournament and took 5-13 from his 10 overs against Silverstream. It was a match where the ball dominated the bat. Onslow looked vulnerable after being restricted to 156 but dismissed Silverstream for 140, with no player in either side reaching 30.

HIBS suffered their second loss in three games when defeated by Wellington College on Sunday.

Wellington College owed much to Jakob Bhula, who was not out 66, after batting at No 4, and then took 4-33 as HIBS were bowled out for 162, 40 runs short of their target.

Scots College, who headed off the Wellington College second XI to take the last spot in the grade, recorded their first win when beating Tawa on Sunday. Tawa have struggled with the bat, with skipper Michael Fenton injured, and have yet to top 100 in three matches.