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North Devon pull things round

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North Devon captain Matt Dart is confident the 187-run win over bottom side Heathcoat is the jump-start needed to get their Francis Clark Devon Cricket League season going.

The defending Premier champions were winless in three previous starts and one off the bottom of the table with only Heathcoat below them.

Rob Gear struck 129, which came off 143 balls and included 17 fours, as North Devon belted along to 299 for five in 50 over.

Along the way there was a stand of 179 for the second wicket with Dan Bowser, who made 76.

Paul Heard (3-22) did the early damage as Heathcoat slumped to 26 for three.

North Devon's Glen Querl

Glenn Querl scoops 5-20

Then Glenn Querl (5-20) tore through the middle order as Heathcoat nosedived to 69 for nine. No one made a double-figure score apart from Justin Williams (45).

Andrew Birt-Mitchell, batting at number 11 due to an injury sustained in the field, made a top score of 25 before Ollie Hunt got him out.

Said Dart: “We needed this win and will face Plymouth this Saturday feeling a lot more confident.

“We probably should have won before now – Sidmouth got away from us and Budleigh we should have beaten – and the longer it goes the harder it becomes.

“Rob Gear batted superbly, Glenn Querl was faultless and Paul Heard bowled a great opening spell, swinging the ball and putting it in good areas.”

Four games into the season Heathcoat are already 21 points adrift of safety at the foot of the table.

Skipper Small believes things can improve against visiting Torquay this Saturday.

“It has been a tough start to the season, but I am looking forward to being almost at full strength against Torquay.

“Justin Williams looked in great nick, but nobody hung round with him.”

Exmouth will be looking to make it three on the trot when they face Sandford on the Maer this Saturday.

Having got off the mark at the third attempt with a win over North Devon seven days earlier, Plymouth were put to the sword by 101 runs at Mount Wise.

Opener Barney Huxtable top scored with 65 and was the second man out at 120 when Rob Bennett ran him out.

David Lye with 44 and skipper Richard Baggs (45) kept the score ticking over, then Andy Buzza hit a brisk 51 towards the end.

Plymouth’s bowlers struggled to keep the run-rate below five an over and only Chris Barr picked up more than one wicket in Exmouth’t total of 267 for seven.

Plymouth started brightly enough – they were 56 for one when the opening stand between James Toms and Whittaker was broken in the 14th over by Max Curtis (2-33) – but lost Jack Bryant, Barr and Jake Luffman before reaching a hundred.

When Toms (61) went at 137 for five – caught and bowled by Lye – the slide started.

West Indian new boy Akeal Hosein took 4-29 and Lye 3-32 as Plymouth crashed out with more than eight overs to go.

Captain Baggs said Exmouth may have had a slow start to the season, but are improving fast.

“This was another really good, all-round performance with bat and ball,” said Baggs.

“Barney Huxtable played his best innings so far, showing real intent from the start.

“Andy Buzza is growing into a fine young player and that's very pleasing to see.

“Akeal had a great debut and is a big asset.

“I am very happy with how we are growing each week.”

Plymouth skipper Callum Whittaker was reflective in defeat.

“Someone else in the top four apart from James (Toms) needed a big score against Exmouth if we were going to get the runs,” said Whittaker.

“I thought 270 was gettable batting second – the way they were going at one stage it looked like being 320 – but we didn’t perform with the bat.

“Exmouth bowled consistently better than we did and once the shine was off the ball they choked us with their spinners.

“We lost to a better side and it is up to us to put it behind us against North Devon.”

Sandford are in good spirits for Saturday’s tussle with former skipper Richard Baggs and his Exmouth side after squeezing a two-wicket win against Budleigh Salterton.

Budleigh were all out for 210 in the 49th of their 50 overs – James Burke and Bob Dawson both making 56.

Elliot Rice made 35, but was run out after Dawson sent him back.

Just as Budleigh appeared to be stepping on the gas, Sandford skipper Matt Theedom brought himself into the attack and his four for 41 slowed the visitors considerably.

Dawson was ninth man out – caught at deep mid-wicket by Adrian Small off Theedom.

Sandford lost opener Adrian Small lbw to Gammy Amarasnghe, but made good progress through Russ Discombe (41) and Neil Bettis (30) towards the total.

Dawson (4-45) and Budleigh skipper Joel Murphy (2-19) tied Sandford down for 20 overs and at 169 for eight the visitors were favourites.

The game was won and lost by a stand of 43 unbroken between ninth-wicket pair Ryan Glass (21no) and Jamie Palmer (23no).

Bradninch skipper Gary Chappell will want to get the season back on track fast against Budleigh Salterton this Saturday after his side crashed to an 85-run defeat at Bovey Tracey.

Bradninch were only a couple of points behind early leaders Bovey going into the game, but have taken a bit of a hit. They remain second, but are now 16 points in arrears.

Chappell didn’t have too many complaints about the outcome at Bovey, but felt too many batsmen let themselves down.

“We bowled and fielded superbly and did well to restrict them to 180, which both sides felt was a little below par.

Although the pitch got worse and made it a tough chase, we batted poorly and had another middle-order collapse.

“No excuses: you don’t win many games batting the way we batted and Bovey thoroughly deserved the win.

“Our bowling is on song and we have a great mix of spin and seam, it’s just our batting we need to sort out if we're going to push at the top.

“We got away with it against Exmouth and Torquay, but against a better side we weren’t so fortunate as they are strong and know how to kill games off.

“Our batters are too good not to get runs and I am not overly worried. It will click soon.”

Peter Bradley top scored for Bovey with 63 before he was fourth out at 132, caught in the covers to give Will squire the first of his two wickets.

Chappell (3-25) kept the Bovey middle order in check with Dilon Mullins (21) and county captain Chris Bradley (22) the only batters to make much headway.

Chris Bradley was caught in the slips off Matt Golding while Chappell bowled Mullins and followed up with Ben Ayres caught in the covers and Luke Hammett lbw first ball.

Bradninch raced to 37 without loss in the eight over – then collapsed in a heap.

Peter Bradley, opening the bowling due to the late withdrawal of Joe Barrs, took three wickets and Neil Hancock two more as Bradninch slumped to 44 for five in 13 balls!

James Street (23no) and Joe Webb (22) restored some semblance of order, but after adding 30 without loss Chris Bradley (4-14) bowled Webb and it was downhill all the way to 99 all out.

Sidmouth skipper Will Murray said his side can get right up among the title chasers this Saturday by beating leaders Bovey Tracey.

Bovey are the only unbeaten side left in the Premiership and even at this early stage of the season are being tipped to win it.

Sidmouth go into the game on the back of two defeats, but Murray isn’t hugely concerned.

“If we beat Bovey and Budleigh beat Bradninch the gap at the top between all of us will close right up,” said Murray.

Sidmouth had been hoping to put their defeat by Plymouth behind them with a win at Torquay last time out, but went down by 85 runs instead.

Murray said the blame for the defeat lay fairly and squarely with the non-performing batsmen.

“At one stage we were 45 for four and Peter Randerson had more than 30 of them,” said Murray.

“I would have preferred to bat first at Torquay as it gets slower after tea there, but really we should have done better than 141 all out in 28 overs.

“The top five have to apply themselves better than they did. Sam Anderson got a good 55 coming in at number six, but by then he is running out of people to bat time with.”

Anderson and Matt Cooke (22) did stage something of a recovery by putting on 51 for the seventh wicket, but by then the damage had been done by Nick Watkin (4-25) and Max Waller.

Somerset staffer Waller added to his 54 when Torquay batted with three for 35 to send Sidmouth spinning to defeat.

It’s a bit of a sporting cliché to say it was an all-round team effort, although on this occasion it would be hard to disagree with Torquay skipper Justin Yau’s summing up.

“It was a fantastic result against arguably the best side in the Premier Division,” said Yau, who shared a stand of 55 with Waller for the second wicket after Brandon Handley went for 25.

“It was great that everyone chipped in with the bat and our tail wagged to get us to 226 for eight, which was a very competitive score.

“There was one over where Callum Wilson took 20 off Liam Lewis (4-76) which swung the momentum of the game and we never looked back.

“Scott Baldry (27) and Joe Thompson (24) played great little cameos and Aqeel' Ahmed’s two sixes at the end to get us to the final batting point may prove critical.

“Having Max (Waller) around was a great help and his contributions were extremely useful.

“The most positive thing was that the match winner was Nick Watkin with a devastating spell of bowling to get rid off Zak Bess, Liam Lewis, Pete Randerson and Will Gater in quick succession.

“Nick bowled absolutely superbly and allowed the two spinners to finish it off.

“To outplay Sidmouth when we were not at our best so convincingly will do wonders for our self belief for the rest of the season.

“We must not get above our stations as every single game in the premier is hard graft."