WEYMOUTH 143-5 (19pts) beat SWANAGE 142-8 (5pts) by five wickets

WEYMOUTH earned their first home victory in 665 days with a comprehensive five-wicket win over Swanage in County Division One.

The Seasiders’ last success at Redlands came in 2019 on Saturday, August 10 courtesy of a 10-wicket triumph over Broadstone Seconds.

And, while the margin of victory against the Swans was not as emphatic, Harry Mitchell’s men were deserved winners after outplaying their opponents with bat and ball plus in the field.

On a hard surface amid warm conditions, Swanage won the toss and chose to bat but lost Mike Nash (4) early on when the opener was bowled after leaving an inswinging delivery from Lloyd Beals (2-26).

Swanage were then hemmed in by the Seasiders’ disciplined attack, Neil Walton (1-19) trapping Jonathan Gregory (4) leg before and Sami Rathnayake (2-43) bowling the watchful John Lewis (22).

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Weymouth continued to chip away at Swanage’s middle order, with the outstanding Mitchell (3-21) the only spinner during the contest to extract turn on a batting-friendly surface.

Dorset Echo: Harry Mitchell, right, was named man-of-the-match for his 3-21, 21no and a catch Picture: GRAHAM HUNTHarry Mitchell, right, was named man-of-the-match for his 3-21, 21no and a catch Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

Mitchell removed Swans’ captain Ben Hodder (13), going on to bowl Steve Kent (8) and Geoff Willcocks (3) as Swanage fell to 97-6.

Weymouth were able to take regular wickets thanks to building pressure in the field, the immense Jack Sapsworth stopping numerous drives at short extra cover.

Mitchell was in action again to pouch a good catch off Beals, sending Phil Eades (0) back to the pavilion.

However, the mainstay of Swanage’s innings was Craig Wells.

Showing patience and excellent shot selection, Wells scored 44 from 82 balls and accelerated late on with Stephen Ramsay (15no) to put on 40 for the eighth wicket.

Wells’ resistance was finally ended by Rathnayake, who breached his defences in the final over to help restrict the visitors to 142-8 from their 40 overs.

In reply, Swanage made an early breakthrough when Tom England (4) chipped a drive to Ramsay off Hodder (3-21).

But Weymouth exerted their authority on a largely toothless Swanage attack as John Wilson and Dom Webb scored freely.

Webb (18) hit two fours and a six in quick succession before lofting Hodder to mid-off, although Wilson hit the ignition boosters after his exit.

Having failed to score from his first 17 balls, Wilson then crashed 47 runs from his next 28 – including two huge sixes over long-on.

Dorset Echo: John Wilson hit 47 off 45 balls Picture: GRAHAM HUNTJohn Wilson hit 47 off 45 balls Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

Rathnayake (4) was bowled by Nilan Weeraddana (1-30) before Wilson perished in identical fashion to Webb as Weymouth reached 87-4.

New men Walton and Mitchell were able to rebuild, the duo picking off the bad balls in a 47-run stand.

Walton’s 27 came off 29 balls, with five boundaries, but his innings ended thanks to a horrible swipe at Hodder, who duly disturbed the stumps.

By then, the damage had been done as the determined Mitchell (21no) rounded off a man-of-the-match display by guiding his team to victory along with Beals (6no) with 9.5 overs to spare.

Speaking to Echosport, Mitchell was thrilled by the all-round display of his side following last week’s disappointing 11-run loss to Hamworthy.

He said: “The tone was set straight away from the opening bowlers, they were exceptional.

“The fielding was outstanding, we saved 30 to 40 runs – a huge effort. Special mention to Jack, it was one of the best fielding performances I’ve seen in a Weymouth shirt.

“Everyone was spot on, I can’t fault anyone. Everyone really did step up, did their bit and more.”

On the Seasiders’ chase, Mitchell added: “I said midweek that small totals have been our Achilles heel and it was almost the same game this week as last week.

“To get over the line comfortably with overs to spare and wickets in hand is a huge positive for us, a huge step forward in the right direction.

“A special mention to John as well, he took the attack to them and scored at over a run a ball. Also, Neil and myself to rebuild and go again, we nullified their attack and dominated.”

Weymouth’s win ended a wait of almost two years for a home victory.

Mitchell said: “It’s great to get back to Redlands, we love playing there and it’s always a good track.

“Credit to the groundsman, he does a fantastic job. It’s only going to get better every week with the sun on it.

“Moving forward, hopefully we can make it a fortress. We all love playing there and we’re happy to be back.”

Elsewhere, Weymouth Seconds lost to Puddletown Seconds by 123 runs in County Division Five North & West.

Weymouth travel to Witchampton on Saturday, while their second string host Bradford Abbas (both 1.30pm).

Dorset Trade Skills man of the match: Harry Mitchell


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