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Close but no cigar . . . (Clockwise from left) Cameron Grubb toiled hard with the ball for North Otago in the Hawke Cup game against Southland last weekend; Jeremy Smith also showed good form; the North Otago slip cordon goes up for an appeal; Stephan Grobler plays a shot. PHOTOS: DAVE NALDRETT

A lack of execution, rather than effort, resulted in North Otago’s Hawke Cup team losing to Southland over the weekend, coach Pete Cartwright says.

The home side was 50 runs short in the chase of Southland’s 289 runs in Oamaru last weekend.

At the same time, in Timaru, Otago Country came back from a first innings loss to win outright against South Canterbury and has now overtaken North Otago on Hawke Cup points.

North Otago will have to wait another season for a chance to challenge for the cup.

Playing on a Whitestone Contracting Stadium Oval pitch that offered something for both bat and ball, North Otago won the toss and chose to bowl on Saturday.

Shortly after lunch, the visitors looked to be in trouble at 118 for five, North Otago’s Cameron Grubb having removed four Southland batsmen.

But a 127-run sixth wicket partnership for Southland took the game out of North Otago’s control.

Jeremy Smith and Brad Fleming quickly bowled the Southland lower-order batters for 44 runs, but Southland had managed to post a competitive 289.

North Otago’s openers had got through one over by the end of play on Saturday without losing a wicket.

On Sunday, scores from Stephan Grobler (42) and Llew Johnson (35) got the team to 126 for four, but Southland brought on the leg-spin of Jack Mockford.

He bowled an impressive 26 overs, and took seven wickets for 67 runs, as North Otago collapsed to 180 for nine.

Young North Otago batsman Tom Dempster (49 not out) and No11 batsman Brad Fleming (27) put together the team’s best partnership of 59 runs.

However, when Fleming departed North Otago was still 50 runs short of the total and the first-innings win went to Southland.

Cartwright was philosophical about the weekend’s results.

“That’s cricket and that’s what happens, some days you get the decisions and some days you don’t,” Cartwright said.

“As far as where we have come from last year, we have certainly come a long way. The fight that we showed is certainly there.

“If guys put in maximum effort and give their absolute best, you can’t be too disappointed.”

Dropped catches had again let the side down, he said.

“I had a bit of an add-up on Saturday and it cost us about 130 runs.

“Against good teams you can’t give away chances.

But he heaped praise on North Otago’s bowlers, who “toiled away bloody well”.

“It looked like we got our decision [to bowl first] wrong with them getting 290,” he said.

“But if we took all our chances and bowled them out for 150 then it would it have been warranted.”

North Otago had a young team, which boded well for the future, Cartwright said.