Sidmouth keep their title hopes alive

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Sidmouth did exactly as the had to do to take the battle for the Francis Clark Devon League Premier Division title to the last day when they won handsomely at Bovey Tracey in their final away encounter of the league campaign, writes Stephen Birley.

The Fortfield men were simply ruthless in the way they put the home side, who themselves went into the game with title aspirations, to the sword.

Batting first they recovered from the rare failure of Matt Cooke to declare on 239-4. Anthony Griffiths was the chief orchestrator as he hit an unbeaten 89 whilst Liam Lewis continued his superb season with 47 and Luke Bess was unbeaten on 47 when the declaration was made.

Knowing that nothing less than the maximum 22 points would suffice to keep the title hopes alive.

The bowlers then worked in tandem to bundle the home side out for just 172 in 45.3 overs. Josh Bess (3-43), Scott Barlow (2-13), Matt Cooke (2-14) and Will Gater (2-19) were the wicket takers.

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With Exmouth picking up 19 points from an 86-run win over North Devon it means that the Maer men head for Cornwood tomorrow (Saturday) seeking the seven points that will negate whatever Sidmouth do in their final game at home to Budleigh.

Sidmouth skipper Will Murray said: “The team really did perform well at Bovey. It was clinical with first bat and then ball. The Griff (Anthony Griffiths) knock was superb, but then so were the contributions from Luke (Bess) and Liam (Lewis). Liam really has had an awesome season with the bat. To get as close to 1,000 runs in the season as he is speaks volumes, not only for his class, but his all-round attitude to the game.”

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As for the fact that his team head into their final game 16 points adrift of Exmouth, Murray said: “Of course I’d like us to have been closer and it’s asking a lot for Exmouth to blow up on the final day. It might rain cats and dogs over Cornwood and that would leave us simply needing to bag another 22 point success, but then we are playing a Budleigh side that have proved to be a nemesis of ours in recent seasons. We can only go into the Budleigh game looking to do our best. We certainly owe them one as the defeat to them on the last Saturday in June is arguably the one that makes the difference. Only once this season have we been seriously outplayed in a league game and that was the defeat to Exmouth.”

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