PUDDLETOWN 111 (17pts) beat WEYMOUTH 110 (10pts) by one run

PUDDLETOWN overcame their biggest test of the season to beat Weymouth by one run in a pulsating County Division One clash at Milton Abbey School.

Following an hour’s delay to play caused by wet run-ups – and a reduction to 32 overs per side – the Seasiders were on course for victory after bowling the runaway league leaders out for 111.

But Puddletown’s bowling attack – which has been firing on all cylinders this season – continuously chipped away at Weymouth’s in-form batsmen.

Weymouth needed two runs to win with one wicket remaining but ultimately fell short when spinner Rob Snow held on to a return catch at the second time of asking.

The final wicket sparked jubilant scenes in the Puddletown ranks as victory now takes them 46 points clear of Stalbridge at the top of the table.

Weymouth stay third but closed the deficit on Stalbridge to 10 points, although their chances of promotion are slim following a second defeat of the season.

Weymouth’s bowlers had put the Seasiders in pole position for what perhaps should have been a resounding win over Puddle.

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Lloyd Beals (0-15) bowled with good control and the pressure he built at one end paid dividends at the other as Jonny Armfield (3-26) was involved in three early wickets.

Armfield extracted seam movement from a rock hard Milton Abbey pitch to clean bowl Snow (3).

He then tipped a drive from new batsman James Mitchell onto the stumps to run out Matt Porter (11).

And, when Armfield tempted Mitchell (9) into nicking behind, Puddletown were 25-3.

Star all-rounder Adam Weir first steadied the innings and then batted calmly when wickets fell around him.

He was powerless to prevent Weymouth making headway at the other end as away skipper Harry Mitchell (2-17) took two wickets in three balls, including home captain Adam Barrett (6).

Weir (46) eventually missed out on what would have been a deserved half-century, holing out to Pete Sapsworth off paceman Tarun Rampal.

Dorset Echo: Adam Weir, left, struck 46 for Puddletown Picture: GRAHAM HUNTAdam Weir, left, struck 46 for Puddletown Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

Rampal helped blow the Puddle tail away with best figures of 4-22 as Weymouth claimed maximum bowling points on the final delivery.

Needing 112 to triumph, Weymouth’s innings began in typically positive fashion as Tom England (12) and John Wilson (8) guided the visitors to 18-0 from four overs.

However, amid a slightly misbehaving pitch, Weymouth’s innings began to unravel.

Wilson was bowled attempting a pull shot to a short ball which dipped at shin height, while England edged a lifter behind off Weir (1-13).

Neil Walton (9) then perished in identical fashion to James Mitchell, Tom Blair (2-31) doing the damage.

Jack Sapsworth (12) smashed a six off Ryan Norman but Harry Mitchell (0) was dismissed by sharp glovework from promising teenage wicketkeeper Reegan Norman.

Puddletown sensed vulnerability in Weymouth and a devastating burst of three wickets in one over from Ryan Norman (4-21) accounted for Sapsworth, Armfield (0) and Shafeek Urumancheri.

Two of those wickets were sensational slip catches from Weir, who was easily man of the match.

Weymouth were staring down the barrel at 67-7 until a counter-attacking 30 from Beals put Weymouth back into the ascendancy.

Dorset Echo: Lloyd Beals, left, scored a rapid 30 for Weymouth Picture: GRAHAM HUNTLloyd Beals, left, scored a rapid 30 for Weymouth Picture: GRAHAM HUNT

Beals took Snow apart, battering three huge sixes as Weymouth reached 104-7.

Snow responded by trapping Manoj Somaratne (8) leg before and Beals was given out lbw off Norman despite being adamant his bat was involved.

That left Rampal and Pete Sapsworth at the crease with two runs required, Snow grabbing a return catch off the latter to seal a memorable win.

Speaking to Echosport, victorious captain Barrett said: “What a game, unbelievable.

“Credit to Weymouth’s bowlers, they bowled really well and put us under pressure.

“Obviously Weiry made what proved to be the match-winning innings. We’re over the moon.

“We thought we were 40 or 50 runs short but the bowlers managed to get us over the line.

“We’ve bowled sides out for cheap scores in the past. We’ve got that never-say-die attitude and it only takes a couple of wickets to get back on top.

“In the middle of the innings we found out Stalbridge lost, so that gave us a pick-me-up and a chance to put real distance between us.”

On the title race, Barrett added: “It’s strange to think about it. Five more wins.

“It’s unthinkable, we shouldn’t even be in the division really, with Shillingstone withdrawing.

“We’ve taken the opportunity with both hands and I suppose the league table doesn’t lie. We’ve got to be taken as a pretty good side at this point.”

In contrast, Weymouth skipper Mitchell said: “The first half of the game we were exceptionally good.

“I’ve got to compliment all five bowlers, they did a solid job, and a special mention for Tarun to get his four wickets at key moments.”

He added: “It’s just small totals, maybe our batsmen’s mindset changes. Instead of playing their natural game, they go into their shell.

“That’s something in time we will change. You can’t blame it on anyone. For Lloyd to get us back in the game a special mention to him.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Puddletown, they bowled exceptionally well. I don’t think either team deserved to lose.

“We wish them good luck in the season and thank them again for letting us use their nets in pre-season – one day we can repay the favour.”

Dorset Trade Skills man of the match for Weymouth: Lloyd Beals