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Hagley Oval was buzzing with non-stop entertainment throughout an epic Black Clash match that saw Team Cricket reverse last year’s shock loss at Bay Oval. This was the third edition of Black Clash at Hagley Oval (fifth overall) which saw another sold-out venue and a massive TV audience both on TVNZ One and in Australia. The in-ground experience is high octane throughout and with an amazing list of event sponsor activations and Duco Events innovative approach to ‘sportainment’ ensured the capacity crowd of just over 8,500 left with a massive smile on their collective faces.

​Duco Events presentation of Black Clash is purposefully different and fans of all ages love being part of the unique atmosphere and witnessing the skills on show from many of New Zealand’s most iconic athletes. Players on both sides were excited by the chance to go head-to-head and interact in this legendary cross-code success story. The cricket purist probably finds a few too many innovations to whet their cricketing palette, but even the modern day T20 fans will delight in the excitement the Ford Double Play over brings – once again adding a real spark to the Team Rugby run chase.

What Black Clash does spectacularly is attract a wide range of new people to cricket, even if it is just to watch the rugby players in action in the hope of a massive upset against the former professional cricketers.

Witnessing All Black stars like Jordie Barrett mixing it with cricketing legends and Keiren Reid starring again with bat and ball is what makes this fixture so enthralling. And that’s what people seem to enjoy most – a contest which showcases the range of talents some of our best rugby players possess pitted against some cricketing greats.

As a contest it was another nail biter! Graham ‘Ted’ Henry was as determined as ever to lead Team Rugby to victory again this year, and with Kieran Read sparking a scintillating run chase it looked like Team Rugby might just sneak to another famous victory. Reid was in impressive form with 73 runs from 45 deliveries (proving last year’s 84 runs was no fluke) and further hinting that he may well have had a great career in cricket, if not for his hall of fame rugby exploits.

Henry’s wildcard this year was recently retired Otago and Blackcaps player Neil Broom, and with a masterstroke in deception Ted also secured the selection of Andrew Ellis (the Canterbury cricketing legend, not his rugby namesake) to Team Rugby! Kaylum Boshier returned this year to again remind of his NZ U19 cricket pedigree and Jock Mckenzie showed his undoubted cricketing all-round talent. Former first-class cricketers Jono Hickey and Jason Spice were valuable additions to Team Rugby, with the latter a late scratching and not able to take the field.

Dan Vettori led Team Cricket expertly in the absence of Stephen Fleming who was a notable omission behind the scenes due to commitments overseas. Vettori is one of many players coaching around the globe these days and his inducement of Australian head coach Andrew McDonald to our fairways paid dividend as his assured ability ensured Team Cricket finished off their impressive first innings to set a formidable target of 199.

Anton Devcich and Hamish Marshall set up the innings for Team Cricket with a stand of 103 in lightning quick time before a middle order slump that saw a crowd pleasing single from Chris Martin in the final over. Martin was a new recruit to Team Cricket this year and it was fantastic to see both he and Kyle Mills swing the new ball with such control in the opening overs.

Reid’s innings set up an enthralling final few overs of the run chase with Team Cricket looking down the barrel in the last over with Team Rugby sniffing opportunity, especially with Andrew Ellis at the crease and Jordy Barrett still to bat. But when Todd Astle was thrown the ball for the last over it was obvious the advantage being a current player can have. Astle expertly navigated the last over and left Team Rugby wondering what happened as Team Cricket exhaled a big sigh of relief.

Special thanks go to the entire team at Duco Events and all the many valued event sponsors, and to Carlena Limmer and David Higgins for the wonderful support they provide to NZCPA and NZRPA through this event.

Team Cricket most certainly look forward to defending the Lomu Trophy again next year!

Team Cricket: Daniel Vettori (c), Todd Astle, Anton Devcich, Peter Fulton, Nathan McCullum, Andrew McDonald (import), Hamish Marshall, Chris Martin, Kyle Mills, Adam Parore, and wildcard Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins.

Team Rugby: Kieran Read (c), Kaylum Boshier, Neil Broom (wildcard), Israel Dagg, Andrew Ellis (wildcard), Jono Hickey, Richie McCaw, Jock McKenzie, Jason Spice, Kaylum Boshier, Jordie Barrett, Ofisa Tonu'u, and Joe Wheeler.


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