Exmouth win throws title race open

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Exmouth skipper Richard Baggs says his side’s win over Bovey Tracey has thrown the Francis Clark Devon Cricket League title race wide open.

While leaders Sidmouth were being harsh on Bradninch – Zac Bess and Liam Lewis setting them up for an eight-wicket win – Exmouth ousted Bovey from second spot by beating them.

It’s tight at the top – only 17 points separate Sidmouth (209pts), Exmouth (196) and Bovey (192) – and with 40 points to play for all three are in the running.

"Two games to go and anything can happen,” said Baggs.

“The important thing for us is not to mess up against Budleigh this Saturday and leave ourselves too much to do against Sidmouth on the final day of the season.”

Sidmouth skipper Will Murray knows where Baggs is coming from as he has seen fortunes fluctuate all season throughout the top flight.

The leaders play Heathcoat this Saturday, who were bottom at the halfway stage but had won four in a row prior to Saturday’s reversal by Plymouth.

For Bovey, who have been top of the shop for most of the season, an embarrassing 53-run defeat has left them everything to do.

Exmouth were all out for 110 in 48 overs – Baggs (35) defying Peter Bradley (4-12), Chris Bradley (2-20) and Ryan Bougrourd (2-10) longer than anyone.

Bovey were taken apart by Trevor Anning (5-16) and David Lye (3-10) as they plummeted to 57 all out,

Victory lifted Sandford off the bottom of the table ahead of Heathcoat, whose four-game winning run came to an end at the hands of Plymouth.

Sandford are nine points shy of safety – they have to get in front of Bradninch – and 12 behind Torquay.

North Devon made 187 for eight in their 50 overs with Rob Gear holding the innings together with 73 not out.

After Dan Bowser (27) and Tom Ansell (29) had departed in a running total of 65 for three, Gear took over.

Ryan Glass (2-22) and Luke Wright (2-20) shared the bowling honours for Sandford.

Sandford got to 109 for three thanks largely to Russ Discombe (42) and George Gree (40) and seemed to be coasting to victory.

Bowser (2-34) and Paul Heard (3-83) sparked a minor wobble and at 133 for five it was a different story.,

Matt Theedom (27) and Wright (20) got Sandford back on track.

After a second stumble – 176 for five became 181 for eight – Jamie Palmer settle the issue with a boundary.

Bradninch were no match for leaders Sidmouth, who bowled them out for 139 then knocked off the runs with more than 13 overs to go.

Take out Tim Piper’s 55 not out – he came on at 48 for five and batted through – and there wasn’t a lot from the rest.

James Street (13), Paul Tweddle (19) and Ross Acton (18) all made modest contributions before being sent back by one of the Bess family.

Zac Bess picked up his second five-wicket haul in a row (5-20) and Josh Bess blasted out openers Chris Acton and Street.

Sidmouth were clinical bout the chase, wel l aware they didn’t have much margin for losing wickets if they wanted all 20 points.

Matt Cooke was bowled by Ross Acton for nine and Anthony Grffiths (13) went in similar fashion to Chappell.

After that there were no real dramas as Liam Lewis (65) and Josh Bess (37) knocked off the rest without mishap.

Plymouth captain Chris Barr has reset his target for the season after stroking a century and taking five wickets in the 19-run win at Heathcoat.

Barr made Heathcoat pay for dropping him twice by cracking a top score of 101 in Plymouth’s total of 202 for eight.

Heathcoat faded after a promising start against Sam Stein and Rob Bennett as the spinners turned the game Plymouth’s way.

Although Barr hogged the limelight with five for 36, Henry Bennett and Matt Hooper both delivered miserly spells as well.

Victory leaves Plymouth in fourth place for another week, but the gap between them and the next two teams has narrowed.

Barr’s 101, which came off 139 balls, was scored the hard way with just four fours and three sixes.

Plymouth had been in a spot of bother against Tom Drake (2-15) and James Drew, who had them reeling at four for three.

Harry Stephenson (24) and Henry Bennett (33) helped Plymouth rebuild as they got to 156 for five in reply.

Barr batted through to the final over when he departed with two balls to go.

Heathcoat were 91 for two when Barr came into the attack and promptly dealt with stubborn opener Guy Bucknell, who had used up 104 balls making 35.

Barr took four in a row as Heathcoat subsided to 128 for six and out of the game.

Skipper Chris Small batted through for an undefeated 65, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a defeat which drops Heathcoat back to the bottom of the table.

Heathcoat need a bounce-back win at Sidmouth this Saturday, which will be a tall order.

Torquay can’t afford a defeat at Sandford this Saturday after going down by 20 runs to Budleigh Salterton in the Premier Division basement clash at the Recreation Ground.

The bottom of the table is a congested place with just 15 points between Heathcoat (133pts), Sandford (136), Bradninch (144) and Torquay (148).

Even Bradninch on 151 points aren’t out of danger yet – particularly as they have a last-day meeting with Sandford.

Budleigh posted 250 for four against Torquay – mostly scored by Bob Dawson with an unbeaten 117 and James Burke with 88.

Dawson then took 4-38, and there were two wickets for Worcestershire bound Charlie Morris, as Torquay ran out of time at 230 for seven.

Dawson and Burke put on 159 for Budleigh’s third wicket before Nick Watkin removed Burke,

Torquay were always a little behind the asking rate despite the best efforts of Aqeeel Ahmed (25), Matt Thompson (37) and Yau (48) to keep up.

Ninety to win of the last 10 overs was too many. Mark Gilour (52 not out) clubbed 24 off the last over from Joel Murphy but that wasn’t enough.