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Big stride . . . Angus Philpott looks to dart one past the batsman. PHOTO: DAVE NALDRETT

Rain is often the enemy of cricketers, but the weekend’s showers were welcomed by North Otago’s Hawke Cup team.

Playing South Canterbury at home, North Otago faced the prospect of chasing 276 to avoid a first-innings loss.

But with Sunday’s play reduced to 37 overs, North Otago survived the day and claimed five competition points for the draw.

On Saturday, South Canterbury won the toss, batted first and scored 276 for eight before declaring with 14 overs left on the first day.

North Otago managed to take wickets at regular intervals but did not manage to take any in quick succession to put the new batsmen under pressure.

Crucially, though, it took South Canterbury almost 96 overs to post the tally, which meant when play was reduced the next day, North Otago’s task was a lot easier.

Jeremy Smith (three for 54) and Cameron Grubb (three for 76) got the breakthroughs with the ball, while Stephan Grobler was miserly at the other end, bowling 20 overs for just 34 runs.

After a long day on the field, North Otago lost two wickets, finishing the day’s play at 23 for two.

Early on the Sunday, the home side was in even more trouble at 45 for five.

That brought Llew Johnson (62 not out) and Tom Dempster (29 not out) to the crease, and the youngsters put together an unbeaten partnership of 71.

They blunted the South Canterbury attack on the rain-affected day, saving the match for North Otago.

“We bowled pretty well early on, beat the bat quite a lot, but didn’t field to our best,” North Otago coach Pete Cartwright said.

“We dropped some catches that cost us quite a few runs, so we have a bit of work to do in the field.”

Dempster and Johnson showed good fight with the bat, Cartwright said.

“Llewy is pretty good to watch when he gets going, so that was the only down side of the rain.

“It was a good knock from Tommy. He is only 18. It was a crucial sort of innings.

“For a young fella under pressure, it showed a fair bit of ticker.

“They did what they had to do and kept the ball out.”

Meanwhile, Otago Country beat Southland at the weekend  – meaning North Otago now leads the group for a Hawke Cup challenge with one game to play, against Southland on February 15.

“If we can get some points out of that then we will be through,” Cartwright said.

“It’s all in our hands, we don’t have to rely on other results.”