Heathcoat snap at Sidmouth heels
Exmouth captain Richard Baggs has insisted it’s not all over yet in the Premier title race despite an eight-wicket drubbing by Heathcoat.
Sam Smith cracked an unbeaten 104 as Heathcoat chased Exmouth’s 195 for seven and got them with 10 left.
Exmouth were lucky to get that many after slumping to 28 for five before Trevor Anning (92no) and Baggs (33) put on 79 for the sixth wicket. Andy Buzza (29) chipped in.
Smith and brother John (40) made a 97-run dent in the deficit, leaving Heathcoat captain Chris Small (35 not out) to continue the chase.
Defeat drops Exmouth from second to third, where they trail new leaders Sidmouth by nine points.
Results elsewhere were kind to Exmouth – former leaders Bovey Tracey lost at home to Torquay – and with three games to go Baggs reckons the title can still be won.
Heathcoat have now won four on the bounce and have moved ahead of Sandford in the fight to stay up.
Bovey slipped off the top after Torquay beat them by five wickets with what skipper Justin Yau described as ‘our most complete performance of the season’.
Captain Peter Bradley top scored with 64 and Delon Mullins made 30 in Bovey’s modest total of 199 for seven.
Torquay sent tail-ender Aqeel Ahmed in to open – a decision justified by a breezy 40. Matt Thompson (39) and Tim Western (30) kept the board ticking over, then Matt Hickey (41 not out) and Scott Baldry (35 not out) wrapped up victory,
Torquay have a16-point cushion over second-bottom Heathcoat and are closing in on safety, according to skipper Justin Yau.
Yau picked out Nick Watkin, Ahmed, Western, Thompson and Baldry for special mentions.
Plymouth captain Chris Barr has set his side a target of finishing in the top three after a four-wicket win over Sandford lifted them to fourth in the table.
Neil Bettis (65), George Greed (51) and Matt Theedom (61) all hit half centuries as Sandford recovered from none for two to reach 235 for eight.
James Toms made 78 as Plymouth reached 131 for three in reply, then George Stephenson (52no) saw the city side the rest of the way.
Victory lifts Plymouth within 10 points of third-placed Exmouth with three games to go, so Barr feels his target is realistic.
While Plymouth contemplate the top three, Sandford have hit rock bottom as Heathcoat beat Exmouth to move ahead of them.
Sam Stein and Rob Bennett took a wicket each in the first two overs – both caught behind to dispatch Russ Discombe and Dave Dredge for no runs between them.
Bettis and Greed put on 109 for the third wicket in a stand which ended when Greed was bowled by Matt Hooper (2-41).
Bettis went next having a go at Hooper, then former Devon batsman Adrian Small came and went without bothering the scorers.
Luke Wright fell to Andy Birkett as Sandford’s 109 for two became 147 for six.
Theedom and Ryan Glass (28) racked up 85 as Sandford accelerated in the last 10 overs.
Plymouth were always in the driving seat after Toms and Jake Luffman (21) gave them a 73-run start.
Matt Theedom had Luffman caught behind then Jack Bryant was bowled by Dredge for 15 as Plymouth briefly slowed to 95 for two.
Toms was bowled by Luke Wright and Barr perished trying to sweep the same bowled.
George Stephenson dug in for the duration after Barr went and with Birkett (23) keeping him company it was pretty well plain sailing.
Bradninch were involved in a real nail-biter at North Devon, who slugged it out to win a low-scoring affair by just one wicket.
Outgoing Bradninch captain Gary Chappell – he is poised to hand over to Ross Acton for the rest of the season after a break due to illness – said one player was the difference between the teams.
Zimbabwean all-rounder Glenn Querl scored 63 when North Devon batted, helping them knock off 158 to win, having earlier taken 8-16 to bowl out Bradninch,
Chappell (46) and Paul Tweddle (61) were the only scores of note for Bradninch as Querl ripped through them.
Chappell and Matt Golding with three wickets each gave Bradninch a sniff, but North Devon’s last pair Matt Westaway and Matt Dart got them over the line.
Defeat leaves Bradninch 16 points clear of the danger zone with three games to go – a bit too close for comfort.
Bradninch go to old adversaries Sidmouth this Saturday before winding up with Plymouth (H) the Sandford (A) on the last day of the season.
Sidmouth went three points clear of Bovey at the top courtesy of a three-run win over Budleigh Salterton.
Matt Cooke and Luke Bess both hit half-centuries in Sidmouth’s total of 203 for nine.
Sam Andrerson went in the second over, but Cooke and Anthony Griffiths (23) regrouped to reach 72 for two.
Luke Bess went in after brother Josh departed to James Hudson (2-18) and batted through until he was last man out.
Gammy Amarasinghe (56) and James Burke (74) gave Budleigh a 100-run start and until Zac Bess intervened it seemed Sidmouth were heading for defeat.
Budleigh needed one more score of substance – a few more than Jack Dart’s 20 – but Zac Bess’s five for 46 denied them.
While Sidmouth will be top heading into this Saturday’s game against Bradninch, Budleigh are one off the bottom, to the annoyance of skipper Joel Murphy.