BERE REGIS 153 (5pts) lost to CHRISTCHURCH 159-7 (19pts) by three wickets

BERE Regis put up a valiant fight but were undone by a 71-run stand for the eighth wicket as Christchurch squeezed home for a three-wicket win in the Dorset Funeral Plan Premier League.

The visitors chose to bowl in an uncontested toss at a damp Bere Regis Rec, with Liam Bowater (3-40) and Tom Marsh (2-20) removing Nick White (2) and Rob Murphy (5) cheaply.

At 17-2, Bere’s fortunes worsened as Warren Bennet (3-29) tore through the hosts’ middle order - Jacob Lambert (6), Tim Goodhew (17) and David Griffiths (1) all falling to the medium pacer.

Matt King (33) had been the mainstay of the innings until he was ousted quickly afterwards by Thomas Hughes (1-19) as Bere limped to 85-6.

However, captain Rich Cole (28) added important late runs alongside Elliot Woodhouse (14) and Cian Evans (12) as Bere made 153 all out.

Christchurch stuttered early in their reply as King (1-25) removed the dangerous Joe Malone (0) before Evans (2-32) chipped in to dismiss Ben Francis and Ben Rayner for ducks.

Christchurch were wounded at 17-3 but Marsh (13) and Bennet (1) lasted little longer as the shaken visitors reached 49-5.

The wily Sean Walbridge (3-19) also accounted for Gareth Williams (8) and Bowater (14) as Bere reduced their opponents to 88-7.

Victory for Bere looked a possibility until a remarkable partnership between Jamie McMurray (68no) and Hughes (43no) recovered the situation to derail the hosts’ comeback.

Speaking to Echosport, Cole believed the stand to be pivotal in the outcome of the match.

He said: “The conditions favoured Christchurch massively, especially with an uncontested toss. It really does help on a wet day.

“We tried to knuckle down and make sure we batted the 50 overs – we were one ball away from that.

“We kept losing wickets whereas Christchurch managed the total opposite with their eighth-wicket stand.

“It was a shame we didn’t have the bowling options available to try and break that partnership and they did what they needed to.

“With the conditions how they were, if we’d have had our full-strength side out we’d have defended (our total) quite well.”

Rich praised his depleted attack, shorn of frontline seamers Rich Payne and Crispin Brown.

He said: “Credit to the bowlers, we got close. We just unfortunately fell at the final hurdle.”

Elsewhere, Bere Regis Seconds 103-7 beat Witchampton Seconds 102 by three wickets in County Division Five.