CRICKET: Rugby CC

Rugby Batsman - Charlie Robards
Rugby Batsman - Charlie Robards
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Win puts Rugby CC second in the table

Warwickshire League

Premier Division

Rugby delivered a commanding performance on Saturday, brushing aside Nuneaton in a 108-run victory to propel them to second place in the WARCL top flight.

The two sides were level on points ahead of this match but, led by captain Matt Ewer, Rugby dominated this encounter from start to finish, continuing their fine form.

Despite losing the toss and being asked to bat first in bowler friendly conditions, the Webb Ellis Roaders started confidently through Charlie Robards and Raj Chohan.

The pair added 76 runs for the first wicket, an identical opening stand to their efforts the previous week, and played some exquisite strokes in the process.

Chohan (35) was the first to fall in the 21st over, attempting to increase the tempo, but failing to clear mid on with an airborne drive.

With the score on 110, Robards was trapped lbw for a classy 51, a dismissal which brought Ewer and Owen Edwards to the crease, the side’s quickest run scorers.

Nuneaton’s bowlers bowled accurately and found enough movement to prevent Rugby scoring easily, but the advantage of keeping wickets in hand began to tell and the run rate climbed.

Edwards (53) scored his third consecutive half century, while Ewer (66) top scored once again for his side, as they added 88 for the third wicket.

Although they fell in quick succession, some hard hitting and quick running from George Mackenzie (32 not out) ensured Rugby reached 262-6 from their 50 overs, including two wickets in the last six balls.

This score appeared significantly above par in overcast conditions and a pitch that was proving difficult to play shots freely on.

Rugby’s opening attack has changed a few times this season but the new look combination of Ewer and Darren Bridges looked threatening from the outset of Nuneaton’s reply.

Ewer’s movement and control, mixed with the fiery pace of Bridges, immediately troubled the batsmen and it didn’t take long for the wickets to fall.

They accounted for the visitor’s top order in quick time, reducing Nuneaton to 23 for three and they soon set their stall out to play for a losing draw.

Martin Cox joined Ruban Field and, after nervous starts, the pair began to blunt Rugby’s seam attack with some resolute defence.

Although the runs were few and far between, two very capable players began to look settled and added 85 runs in 30 overs.

The game appeared to be meandering towards a draw, when Chohan finally removed Field (48) in the 37th over, thanks to a lightening quick catch by Bridges at gully.

This gave the home side the opening they so badly needed and, with the opening bowlers returning to the attack, wickets began to tumble.

Cox (42) fell to Bridges, sharply caught in the slips by Robards, and it was a procession of batsmen from here as Rugby stormed to victory.

Bridges claimed for 4/54, while Ewer was the star of the show with 13.4-3-36-5, as Rugby claimed the final seven wickets in the space of ten overs.

Nuneaton were bundled out for 154 with 20 balls remaining, a demise that was aided by a much-improved fielding display in which eight wickets fell to catches.

The 24 points move Rugby up to second, a great effort in the club’s first season at this level, but runaway leaders Sutton Coldfield have opened up a 33-point league over the chasing pack already.

Rugby have also progressed to the semi-final of the WARCL Twenty20 competition after a crushing victory over division 1 side Hampton & Solihull last Friday.

Ewer won the toss and chose to bowl first on a green track, a decision that his bowler’s rewarded well to set up a ten-wicket win.

Edwards took a wicket in the first over of the match, but it was spinners Raj Chohan and Steve Ward who really made the difference.

Chohan returned 3/20 from his four overs, while Ward was the most economical bowler, conceding 15 runs from his allocation to help restrict Hampton to 112-8.

Rugby raced to victory inside ten overs, thanks to a brutal 44-ball 97 not out from Edwards that included nine sixes, setting up a semi-final showdown with Marston Green.