CRICKET: Rugby CC

Michael Powell batting for Rugby on Saturday
Michael Powell batting for Rugby on Saturday
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Defeat in final-ball thriller

WARCL Premier Division

Rugby v Hampton & Solihull

Rugby lost out in a final-ball thriller against Hampton on Saturday, as their poor batting form continued and cost them a third consecutive defeat.

The return of former Warwickshire captain Michael Powell appeared to give RCC some early momentum after they chose to bat first, as he joined Charlie Robards in a 64-run opening stand.

However, when Powell (34) chipped one to mid-wicket, the wheels came off for Rugby and their top order collapsed in frustratingly soft fashion.

The one man to show any consistency with the bat this summer has been Robards and, in an all too familiar scenario, he was left to fight a lone hand.

He anchored the innings superbly, before being dismissed in the 48th over for 86, which took his season tally to 471 runs from only 11 innings.

But, with only Henry Parker (14) and Steve Ward (12*) reaching double figures after the openers, Robards had little support and Rugby struggled to 167/7 from their 50 overs.

Hampton’s reply started cautiously, but Rugby’s pace attack were unable to make any inroads on a slow, spin-friendly track.

The introduction of spinners Ward and Powell immediately caused the batsmen more problems though and, as the runs dried up, the wickets started to fall.

Ward (11-3-40-2) made the first breakthrough, before a sharp slip catch by Hugh Cochrane gave Powell (15-4-35-2) his first wicket.

Frustratingly for Rugby, their mediocre total in the first innings allowed Hampton’s middle order to take their time and rebuild without any significant scoreboard pressure.

With Ward also executing a run out, Hampton were struggling on 109/5, but a series of dropped chances and some counterattacking batting by Michael Taylor (42) and Matthew James (31) put the game back into the balance.

Hampton went into the final over needing nine runs to win, with four wickets in hand, and a boundary off the last ball saw them secure a hard-fought win.

It was another disappointing day for Rugby who impressed in the field once again, but simply lacked the runs up front to set up a positive result.

Rubgy visit bottom-club Fillongley next week and, when they beat the village side earlier in the summer it was a result that sent the Webb Ellis Roaders to the top of the league, but since then, they’ve not won another match and will be desperate to turn their form around.