Back, from left, Ben and Nick Sundvick, Daniel Fogden, captain Steven MacDonald, Nikhil Aggarwal, Neville Porteous, Bruce Batten, Jack McLaren. Front, from left, Russell Fenwick, Ian and Ross Neal.
The Wellsford Cricket Club has won the 40-over Rodney Championship for the first time since 1987.
The club started the season strong, with four wins in five weeks, and continued to build momentum, making it into the final of the concurrently run T20 competition.
Wellsford lost that final to the Whangateau Rams, so when the two teams faced each other in the final round robin of the 40-over, a rivalry had brewed.
Wellsford restricted the Rams to 116 in 10 overs and chased them down with 120 runs and only four wickets down.
Wellsford manager Ross Neal says it was the game that clinched the competition.
By the time the team played its final match against Warkworth, it had already won as rival contender, Pakiri, had been knocked out by Kaipara.
Wellsford finished with 13 points on the standings tables. Warkworth came second with nine points.
Highlights for the season included Neville Porteus finishing number one on the fielding leader board with five catches, Bruce Batten was second in the bowling with 11 wickets and Nikhil Aggarwal was third on both, batting with 197 runs and bowling with nine wickets.
“Rodney College students, Nick and Ben Sundvick, had a good season and are going to turn out to be great cricketers if they stick at it,” Neal says.
Five years ago, the club was on the brink of folding, struggling to field sufficient numbers for games. Its fortunes started to turn when Ross Neal returned from coaching rugby in the UK and took over as manager.
Wellsford was further bolstered with four players when the Otamatea cricket team folded two years ago.
“This season we had a full team every week – it makes a huge difference having 11 players on the field. It also helps not to be ringing around on Friday night looking for players.
“Now that we have a core team, we are looking to attract more new players. We like to give everyone a shot.”
Neal says with the club in winning form, it will look at securing sponsorship ahead of next season.