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Big dance . . . St Kevin’s College First XI captain Liam Direen (left) and Oamaru captain Robbie Breen face off before tomorrow’s Borton Cup final. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Oamaru and St Kevin’s College have been through it all together.

Except playing each other in a Borton Cup final.

About eight years ago, Oamaru and St Kevin’s combined for the Borton Cup competition, competing as Oamaru-St Kevin’s, as both teams were struggling for numbers at the time.

Together, they created a formidable side, winning back-to-back Borton Cups in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Following their success, the teams gained enough traction to enter individual teams in the competition. Now, the two sides have become so strong they are at the top of the table, and will compete against each other in tomorrow’s Borton Cup final for the first time.
Oamaru captain Robbie Breen said an Oamaru-St Kevin’s final was a ‘‘fairytale’’ end to the season.

‘‘When I came back [to play for Oamaru-St Kevin’s] . . .we were struggling with eight or nine players on the pitch as a combined club,’’ Breen said.

He heaped praise on St Kevin’s player-coach Craig Smith for rebuilding the school side, and paid tribute to the hard work the Oamaru Cricket Club had put in to expand its numbers, entering two Dick Hunt teams this season.

‘‘It’s very cool.’’

Smith said the two clubs had a good relationship, Oamaru using the school’s cricket nets for training, and several St Kevin’s players suiting up for Oamaru in the Dick Hunt competition.

‘‘It’s quite nice to get to play them in the final. It’ll be a good battle,’’ he said.

Both teams come into the final off the back of narrow semifinal wins — Oamaru beat Valley by 17 runs while St Kevin’s downed reigning Borton Cup champion Union by 22 runs.

Oamaru has won the Borton Cup 34 times — the most wins by any North Otago club — but St Kevin’s is coming into its second consecutive final.

St Kevin’s has not won the competition since the 1998›99 season, when a 14›year›old Smith played for the team as a pupil of the school.

Smith said St Kevin’s was ‘‘thrilled’’ to make the final again and would look to go one better than last year.

‘‘Last year when we played we probably bottled it a wee bit and that might have just been the pressure,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got a few boys who are back from last year so just playing with freedom and not letting the occasion get to you, that’s going to be important. They’ve got a couple of key players as well that we’ll have to be wary of.’’

Breen said shutting down Smith’s contribution would be key for Oamaru.

‘‘We’ll need to bat well, we’ll need to get Craig early and make sure that we don’t let it slip as well,’’ Breen said.

‘‘They’ve still got guys that can sting you on their day. Josh Phipps has scored runs against us, Liam’s [Direen] a big dog when he wants to be, Jesse Valpy’s a very classy opening bat and then their bowling attack is pretty relentless.’’

For Breen, who is bringing up his 102nd game for Oamaru this weekend, the final would be his last as captain of the team.