Dale Phillips reached his maiden first-class ton on Day One | Images: PHOTOSPORT

Rippon career-best seals Uni Oval thriller

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ROUND SEVEN

OTAGO VOLTS beat CENTRAL STAGS by 44 runs

University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

26-29 March 2021

SCORES

Toss: Otago Volts who batted

First innings bonus points

BATTING: Otago Volts 4 Central Stags 4

BOWLING: Central Stags 2 Otago Volts 4

Total points this round: Otago Volts 20, Central Stags 6

SELECTED MILESTONES

First-class debut for Otago Volts: Jarrod McKay (previously: Central Stags 2019/20)

Tom Bruce 50th first-class appearance

Dale Phillips - maiden first-class century

Brad Schmulian - second first-class century

Michael Rae - first-class hat-trick

Michael Rae - second first-class five wicket bag

Hamish Rutherford - 15th first-class century (10th for Otago Volts)

Michael Rae - 100th first-class wicket

Michael Rippon: third first-class five-wicket bag (second for Otago Volts)

Michael Rippon - career best first-class bowling (6-66, previously: 5-33)

Michael Rae - best match analysis 8-134

DAY FOUR

After the Otago Volts resumed with four wickets in hand and a 262-run lead, Hamish Rutherford declared the second innings at 292/7.

Nick Kelly had added a handful of runs to his overnight total before being caught off Ray Toole on 74, Michael Rippon left unbeaten on 43* as the Volts set the Stags a last-day target of 332 in two a half sessions.

By lunch, the Stags were 49 without loss, captain Greg Hay and first innings centurion Brad Schmulian going on to reach half centuries in the middle session - but at the cost of three wickets, as Michael Rae picked up a further two victims for the match, while Rippon had trapped anchorman Hay on 58.

Schmulian headed to the break unbeaten on 54* however, with Tom Bruce 16*, the Stags needing 173 runs off 33 overs from the last session at roughly five runs per over.

After tea, first innings centurion Schmulian had progressed to 64 when a tight Angus McKenzie lured him into offering a catch to Mitch Renwick in the slips: 181/4, and the end of a 54-stand.

Dane Cleaver and Tom Bruce - passing 50 this time in his 50th first-class game, took the Stags past 200, the visitors needing 110 more runs off 25 overs (minimum). But Rae continued his match of milestones by trapping Cleaver for his 100th first-class wicket.

The Stags had kept stringing together partnerships and stayed on course regardless, while Rippon shaped as a key dangerman in the Volts attack.

After a fair dose of luck not going his way - and as the shadows lengthened across the pitch, the wrist-spinning tweaker finally got through Josh Clarkson at 268/6 - the Stags now needing 65 runs at just over four per over as Doug Bracewell joined Bruce in the middle.

It was Rippon's second wicket of the innings, and the start of a special session for the 29-year-old.

With Bracewell at the crease there was no need to panic for the Stags. He immediately tapped the lion's share of 16 runs in a 17-run Matt Bacon over to significantly ease the equation, including a six and two boundaries. The Stags were on the charge.

But he was out off the very next delivery in Rippon's next over: a huge wicket at 286/7. Now the tail was exposed, with 47 still required.

With Bruce on 81*, Blair Tickner lasted three deliveries against Rippon who now sat on the cusp of a five-for as the Otago men closed in around the crease.

Rippon didn't have to wait long for his bag, collecting Jayden Lennox in the next over: the Stags were down to their last man now, still 45 runs short of their target.

Rippon trapped number eleven Ray Toole first ball, the Volts winning a Dunner stunner by 44 runs, BruceΒ  stranded on 81* still, and Rippon walking off with a career-best, match-winning 6-66. He has taken five wickets while conceding just a single, in the space of 14 balls.

For the second year running, the Volts had beaten the Stags at Uni Oval and now leapfrogged them into interim second spot on the table.

DAY THREE

The stats were flowing thick and fast on 'moving day' at University of Otago Oval - for both teams.

Brad Schmulian, the man who had scored a New Zealand record 203 on first-class debut in 2017, reached his second Plunket Shield century, after having resumed on 70*.

With him, Dane Cleaver was also flourishing, the pair pouring on 187 runs for the fifth wicket, with Schmulian's century arriving with his 12th boundary, off 169 balls, after three hours in the middle.

Schmulian reached 127 before Angus McKenzie finally split them apart with his third wicket of the innings, but from 322/5 the innings was about to take a dramatic turn.

Doug Bracewell was now at Cleaver's side, with the wicketkeeper-batsman on 99* and inching towards what would have been his third first-class century. It was Michael Rae, well into his third spell, who seized the moment, however.

Rae had Cleaver caught by Dale Phillips on 99 - the start of a rare hat-trick in which all three wickets were caught by the same fieldsman in simillar fashion.

It was just the eighth Otago hat-trick in 135 years of first-class cricket, Josh Clarkson having departed scoreless and then Blair Tickner - a man who had a first-class hat himself - the third victim to confer the honours on Rae for the first time.

With Jayden Lennox joining him at the crease, Bracewell appeared to have had the word to get a wriggle on: at 322/8, a fourth batting point was just 28 points away. He smacked 18 runs off the next over, bowled by McKenzie.

Lennox then added a boundary of his own off Rae's next delivery, but would become Rae's fifth victim of the innings - with Phillips yet again accepting the catch, at 349/9.

As soon as Bracewell found the boundary a couple of balls later, Greg Hay declared at 353/9, conceding a first innings lead of 40 runs but with four batting points in the bag, while the Volts had also picked up the maximum bowling points thanks to Rae's stunning 92nd over. The Otago strikeman finished with 5-62, stepping up for his side that was without two key pacemen.

The Volts again lost two early wickets in their second dig, but this time Hamish Rutherford got going and built a substantial platform for his side with a knock of 111 off just 128 balls (14 boundaries, two sixes) - the third century of the game.

Leading by 154 runs by tea, he shared in a bright 147-run stand for the third wicket with Nick Kelly who carried on to a half century after Brad Schmulian had Rutherford caught off his third over of the afternoon. Kelly took the overall lead past 250.

When bad light brought stumps, Kelly had reached 69* and the hosts were in position to call the shots with a 262-run lead and six wickets in hand heading into the final morning.

Central Stags allrounder Doud Bracewell had bowled just two overs at the top of the innings before being subbed by Joey Field.

DAY TWO

Having resumed on his overnight score of 134*, maiden centurion Dale Phillips surged on to almost post a 150 - until he fell trapped to Doug Bracewell on 149.

By then, Phillips had plundered 22 boundaries - and an audacious six off Tickner straight after tea on day one.

His dismissal, after six hours at the crease, didn't stop the runs flowing as partner Max Chu (53) carried on for a quick half century, but the door was now ajar at the other end and the Stags' attack rallied after a tough first afternoon to stem the damage, the Volts all out for 393, Jayden Lennox picking up a second victim when he had Michael Rae caught and bowled.

The Stags then lost captain Greg Hay before lunch to a shot the Stags veteran will probably watch 21 times on the replay; Angus McKenzie picking up his second first-class wicket.

Rae then accounted for the other opener George Worker after lunch to have the Stags in early strife at 32/2, exacerbated when Ben Smith came and went at 34/3.

In his 50th first-class game, new man Tom Bruce almost reached a 50 to match, sharing an 89-run stand with first drop Brad Schmulian.

They steadied the ship, but there was still a big job to do when Dane Cleaver replaced Bruce straight after tea, Bruce having gone no further than his 49* at the break before McKenzie had his second.

By stumps Schmulian had reached 73*, his highest score against the side, while Cleaver (51*) also had an unbeaten half century as they headed back in to the sheds at 212/4, trailing by 161.

DAY ONE

When you're asked to bowl first at Uni Oval and you have both openers back in tent at 7/2 and make it four down by lunch on the first day, you might be tempted to think you're off to a pretty handy start in your last away match of the season.

But after their good work with the ball in the morning session, the Central Stags were in for a long day in the dirt as the Volts' middle order built a commanding recovery.

The hosts had been 96/4 at the lunch break after a difficult beginning that had cost the wickets of captain Hamish Rutherford and Anaru Kitchen at the top, 7/1 quickly becoming 7/2 as Blair Tickner and a fierce Doug Bracewell struck in the space of seven balls.

Greg Hay takes the catch to dismiss his opposing skipper | PHOTOSPORT

They were followed in by Mitch Renwick at 28/3 in the 17th, a wicket for second change Josh Clarkson in his first over, Nick Kelly and Dale Phillips left to steady the ship before lunch.

Not someone who likes to idle on the scoreboard, Kelly led the way back for the Otago men, initially, reaching his half century at a relatively brisk pace in the first session.

But when left-arm spinner Jayden Lennox came on just before the break, in just his second first-class appearance, Lennox trapped a sweeping Kelly on 57 for his maiden wicket with his fifth delivery in the game.

The middle session belonged to the Volts. No wickets were lost as Dale Phillips and Michael Rippon added 105 runs in the session, collecting the first batting bonus just before the tea interval.

The pair resumed with Phillips on 76* and Rippon 40* in a stand that would reach 184 runs, just shy of the Volts' all-time fifth-wicket record against the Stags.

Rippon reached his half century in the last session and then stayed with Phillips as the young batsman inched his way through the 90s for the first time, his previous best having been an unbeaten 83* earlier this season.

The pair had taken their side to 254/5 when Phillips squeaked a single off leg-spinner Brad Schmulian to reach his fine maiden ton, off 191 balls after more than four hours of application.

Crucially the pair kept going, pushing on to 280/5 when Rippon was finally defeated by Tickner on 79.

Rippon had looked to be back to his grittiest, while Phillips carried on until stumps with the Volts in a strong position overnight at 321/5.

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