DOUGIE Brown, who answered Dermot Reeve's SOS call when Chris Lewis pulled out of the squad last week, played his role to perfection yesterday by keeping England on course for a hat-trick of Cup titles at the Cathay Pacific/Wharf Holdings International Sixes. A last-minute act of derring-do with the bat against Australia by all-rounder Brown saved England from being knocked out of the Cup competition which they have dominated for the last two tournaments. 'I promoted him from six to four in the batting order and it paid off,' said Reeve, who figured in a match-winning partnership with Brown which saved the day for England against the Aussies. But England better watch out for South Africa, the most impressive of the nine teams on the opening day's action. The South Africans breezed into the second stage with emphatic wins over Holland and the West Indies. The impression that South Africa can break England's two-year stranglehold on the Hong Kong Sixes is borne on a solid batting display, with none of their batsmen being dismissed yesterday while chasing targets of 67 (against Holland) and 83 (against the West Indies). Jonty Rhodes and Richard Snell starred with the bat for South Africa. Their power-hitting more than compensates for the bowling which is a trifle lacking. England, however, are an all-round side with immense faith in their abilities. And a side that creates their own luck - staying in contention for the Cup after staring defeat in the face. Warwickshire all-rounder Brown, a Scot, was the toast of the England camp late yesterday afternoon after scoring an invaluable 23 runs as England narrowly defeated Australia in their final group game to edge into the Sobers Group where they are joined by the West Indies and Australia. The other group comprises South Africa, India and Sri Lanka. Hosts Hong Kong missed out on the glory by a couple of runs, despite beating India in the round robin. New Zealand experienced the same feeling after England had beaten Australia in the last group game yesterday. That victory kept England in contention today for the title hat-trick, the US$100,000 diamond encrusted golden bat and a winner's purse of HK$200,000. All thanks to replacement Brown. Brown, who has played first-class cricket for Scotland and also represented the Scottish under-18 soccer team, vindicated Reeve's belief in him. When Brown joined Reeve at the wicket, England, chasing a target of 56, were struggling at 26 for three in the third over. But the Warwickshire duo were more than capable of handling the pressure. Two boundaries by Reeve off Australian captain Michael Slater, saw England finish that over with the score on 34 for three. Then Brown took over, hitting Matthew Elliott for a six and a four, and in the final over, striking two successive boundaries off paceman Brendon Julian to secure a nail-biting win. His was a priceless knock considering that at one stage the defending champions were looking at the ignominy of playing among the losers after having lost their first game to New Zealand. That clash at high noon ended in England losing by two wickets. Batting first, only Neil Fairbrother (31) clicked as England struggled to 64 for three in their allotted five overs. The target became insignificant after skipper Reeve was hoisted for 21 runs in the opening over. Philip DeFreitas and Adam Hollioake grabbed a wicket each in their overs, but still conceded 11 runs apiece as New Zealand reached 46 for two at the end of the third over. But Kiwi Nathan Astle saw his side through with an unbeaten 23.