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Benton and Allen bounce Exmouth to top

Seb Benton and Sandy Allen both passed 80 as Exmouth beat Sidmouth by three wickets to take top spot in the Francis Clarke Premier League.

Bovey Tracey were top of the table on games won, but dropped bonus bowling points in their win over Cornwood, which let Exmouth go past them.

Sidmouth totalled 237 for eight in their 50 overs with runs most of the way down the order, but nothing better than Peter Randerson’s 49 off 40 balls.

Opener Matt Cooke got a patient 44 at the top and when he was fourth out at 112 in the 34th over Sidmouth needed some oomph!

Randerson, Luke Bess with 43 and Nick Gingell who made 37 off 25 balls got the board moving again. Wickets-wise there were two each or Trevor Anning, Gary Chappell and Lawrence Greenway.

Sidmouth gave Exmouth a real run for their money before conceding defeat with five balls of the final over to come. Charlie Miles (2-27) and skipper Will Murray (1-40) kept it tight, but Josh Bess, Cooke and Dom Bess all found it hard as Exmouth nibbled away at the deficit.

Opener Allen – dropped three times before reaching 20 – made 81 off 98 balls with 60 in boundaries. He was third out at 156.

Benton had put on exactly 100 with Allen before he went and carried on with Andy Buzza then Anning as the target came down. By the time Lewis had Benton caught by Gingell for 82 the target was 28 in nine overs and the game over as a contest.

Torquay steamed away from the Premier Division drop zone courtesy of a six-run win over Exeter on the Recreation Ground.

The City side came unstuck against Torquay on their own ground earlier in the season and arrived at the seaside looking for revenge. However, Exeter got down to the last over needing 15 to win and that proved too tall an order.

Victory opened up a 31-point safety buffer for Torquay over Bradninch in the second relegation position. Torquay started badly with opener Tim Western bowled first ball by Billy Searle.

Dan Kruger (25) and Mickey Wilkinson (34) hoisted 57 for the second wicket, then Matt Thompson and Matt Hunt added 58 for the fourth. Thompson went on to make 57 before he was fifth out on 203 – the second scalp for Blake Reed (2-37).

Along the way Thompson shared a partnership worth 78 with brother Joe, who went on to make a top score of 68. Hunt, playing his first game of the season for Torquay had already fallen for 30.

Bowling honours for Exeter were hard to find, although Matt Hicks 10 overs for 37 runs stood up well against the rest. Reed batted through for an unbeaten 105 in the Exeter innings – and when he was involved in a stand of 91 for the third wicket with young Ben Green an away win looked likely.

Losing Green for 51 – the middle of Ben Passenger’s three wickets – proved crucial to the outcome.

Four wickets fell for 20 runs – including one to wicketkeeper Matt Thompson, who handed the gloves to brother Joe to bowl a bit of seam up and trapped Hicks lbw.

Dan Wightman (3-48) kept the screw tight in his second spell as the overs came down and the asking rate went up. Exeter ran out of time on 230 for eight.

Bovey were unable to bowl out Cornwood for a 20-point maximum and allowed Exmouth to take top spot on the strength of their win over Sidmouth.

Mark Horwell compiled a patient 67 which topped up the total after Chris Parker (39) and Ryan Rickard (41) helped Cornwood to 98 for two. Chip-ins from Jason Hall (31) and Ben Warren kept the board moving along.

Pick of the bowlers economy wise were Chris Bradley (10-0-27-1) and Damian Bourke (2-31). Adam Goodliffe nicked out Peter Bradley early on and Elliot Staddon (2-42) removed Sam Wyatt-Haines (23) and 43 for two.

Aussie Bourke took over from then on, striking an unbeaten 103 to see Bovey to a comfortable win with five balls to spare.

Matt Golding (27) helped out, but it was stand of 101 between Bourke and Neil Hancock (52) that broke the back of the chase.

Cornwood may have lost at Bovey Tracey, but their position at the bottom of the table hasn’t worsened for Plymouth did them a favour by beating fellow strugglers Bradninch – and Budleigh Salterton obliged by losing to North Devon.

The Corns remain one place and 16 points clear of the drop zone, helped by maximum batting points from a total of 234 for six.

Plymouth got back to winning ways after two defeats thanks to an eight-wicket win over lowly Bradninch. Bradninch captain Tim Piper cranked up emotions before the game with some ‘well-chosen’ words, which only served to motivate the city side.

But they were bowled out for 118 in the 34th of their 50 overs – Greg Maher (32) and Jackson Thompson (20) having the only scores of note – with Dave Burke (2-31) and Marnus Labuschange (4-16) doing the damage.

James Toms and Callum Whittaker got Plymouth off to a 31-run start. Toms fell lbw to Ross Acton – a big stride down the pitch not saving him from umpire Jim Hicken’s raised finger.

Whittaker carried on to make 46 and when he was second out at 92 the chase was almost over. Labuschange (33no) and Jake Luffman (15no) saw Plymouth to victory.

Bradninch’s season continues this Saturday with a home game against fellow strugglers Budleigh, who are the only team below them in the Premier table.

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