Top of the table at last for Rugby

Warwickshire League, Premier Division, Olton & West Warwicks v Rugby

Rugby moved top of the Premier Division for the first time ever thanks to a seven-wicket victory over Olton.

Olton’s groundstaff worked hard to ensure the match survived the morning’s heavy rain and, after a delayed start, a 30-over match began.

Matt Ewer won a crucial toss and, after making the easy decision to bowl first, produced a vintage opening spell to put his side in control.

Olton’s top order was blown away as Ewer claimed four wickets in his first five overs.

After Ewer made the early inroads, reducing the hosts to 21-4, Jamie Barker (6-0-31-3) continued the good work.

Having missed the last four matches, Barker showed little sign of rustiness, swinging the ball prodigiously.

A series of sharp catches were held, with Charlie Robards and Henry Parker claiming the best two of the day.

Although Steve Ward and Owen Edwards claimed a wicket apiece late in the innings, Jeremy Bishop (25), Jamie Hawkins (30) and Sunil Vyakaranam (19no) fought hard to give Olton something to bowl at.

They struck 28 runs from the last 12 balls to carry their side to 123-9.

But it was below-par on a good track, even though the rain had slowed the outfield.

Although Rugby lost Ward (7) with the score on 17, their response never really looked in doubt, as Robards and Edwards were quickly into their stride.

With the sun drying the outfield and the ball coming onto the bat nicely, both players began to find the boundary and broke the back of the run chase with a partnership of 70 in 13 overs.

Edwards (38) and Robards (49) were dismissed late on but Parker (17no) struck three straight boundaries to finish the match in the 24th over.

It was a high-class display from Rugby who have momentum building ahead of fixtures against fellow title hopefuls Four Oaks Saints, Nuneaton and Bedworth in the next three weeks.

WARCL Premier Division 2nds, Rugby vs Olton & West Warwicks

Rugby’s second string bounced back from last week’s disappointing result with another rampant bowling performance that earned them 20 points and a rise to second in the table.

Neal McGrath won a critical toss and chose to bowl first.

As he has done all season, McGrath himself settled into a probing off-stump line and, after a first-wicket stand of 17, he accounted for both openers.

The introduction of spinner Nik Sona furthered their dominance as he claimed wickets with his first two balls.

Sona (11-5-16-5) was the chief destroyer and Olton collapsed to 44-8.

A late fight back from the big-hitting Shabir (31) gave his side’s score some respectability, but McGrath (11.3-3-16-4) returned to claim the last two wickets and bowl Olton out for 85.

With the sun now baking down on Webb Ellis Road, Rugby’s run chase looked a formality.

But they lost their top three cheaply and found themselves in trouble on 13-3.

Thankfully, Jack Coleman put his tough start to the season behind him with a crucial score of 19.

However, just as his innings seemed to have given his side the impetus to ease to victory, more quick wickets left Rugby still needing 40 runs with only four wickets remaining.

It was left to captain McGrath to cap a fine all-round display with an assured 15 not out and Tom Binding (13no) to hit the winning runs to see Rugby home in the 30th over.

Some of the shot selection was questionable but their bowling attack is on fire and will be cause plenty of worries for Four Oaks Saints next week.