An intriguing clash opens the Williams Cup on Saturday when the two protagonists from the dramatic finish to the Baywide Cup, Greerton and Mount Maunganui, meet at Pemberton Park.
There is no bigger prize at stake in Bay of Plenty club cricket than the time-honoured Williams Cup. The first name engraved on the symbol of Baywide premier cricket supremacy was the City Cricket club from Rotorua, who won the Baywide crown in the 1932/33 season.
Over the years there have been some titanic battles for the Williams Cup.
Te Puke lead the number of championship titles, with 14 Williams Cup victories. In recent years Element IMF Cadets have been the team to beat in the annual competition, with the trophy having been won by the Tauranga Domain-based side on nine occasions since the 1994/95 season.
Mount Maunganui and Eves Realty Greerton were the major players in the thrilling finish to the last round of the Baywide Cup in December. The scenario entering the last round, was that if Mount Maunganui beat arch-rivals Cadets the Baywide prize was theirs. However if they fell at the last hurdle, and Greerton defeated East Bay United, the Baywide trophy would go into the trophy cabinet at Greerton.
At the halfway stage of the first innings at Blake and Pemberton Parks, Mount Maunganui were in desperate trouble at 95/7 against Cadets, with Greerton well on the way to bowling East Bay United out for a modest total.
Enter Mount Maunganui heroes Alex Gooding and Tony Goodin. Unconcerned about the big ask, the two lower order batsman blasted a partnership of 144, with the Mount turn at bat finishing at 263/8.
Over at Pemberton Park, Greerton dismissed the Eastern Bay visitors for 155. With the Mount needing to bowl Cadets out to win the Baywide trophy, they walked off Blake Park in apparent despair after Cadets still had two wickets in hand when stumps were drawn. However, misery turned to joy when a quick phone call to Greerton headquarters revealed that Greerton had been rolled for 105 by the Eastern Bay bowlers - which handed Mount Maunganui the first Baywide prize of the season.
Greerton enter the 2013 Williams Cup title race as the defending champions, after ending a 27-year drought when they defeated Element IMF Cadets in the 2012 Williams Cup final.
With the Baywide Cup clash between Greerton and the Mount not played due to rain, this is the first time that the two sides have met in limited over cricket since Greerton eliminated the Mount in the Baywide semifinals last March.
In other Williams Cup opening round games, Cadets take on 2009 champions Tauranga Boys' College, in a game that could go down to the wire.
Te Puke, fresh from a highly creditable second place in the Baywide Cup, face East Bay United at the Te Puke Domain, with a local Rotorua derby between Central and BOP Indians taking centre stage at Smallbone Park.
Williams Cup Draw 12 January 2013;
Central v BOP Indians, Smallbone Park; Eves Realty Greerton v Mount Maunganui, Pemberton Park; Te Puke v East Bay United, Te Puke Domain; Tauranga Boys' College v Element IMF Cadets, Nicholson Field