WATCH + GALLERY: Rugby inflict first home defeat of season on Stratford
STRATFORD suffered their first defeat on home soil this season on Saturday, as they went down by five wickets at the hands of Rugby.
The Panthers were put into bat after losing the toss and they got off to a steady start through openers Dexter Purser and Tyler Scroop.
They had amassed 33 runs before Lee Golding (2-54) had Purser caught out by Wes Landsdale for a quick-fire 24.
One run later Scroop was marching back to the pavilion for a 26-ball seven after he glanced Neal McGrath’s delivery into the hands of wicketkeeper Lee James.
McGrath (3-51) then removed Nick Pepper (7) and John Stratton (11) to reduce the Panthers to a worrying 56-4. Gareth Langman and Josh Colwell stopped the collapse albeit rather briefly.
The pair put on a 34-run stand before Owen Edwards (2-21) had Langman trapped for a steady 18 off 47 balls.
Colwell also had to work hard to add to the scoreboard, with his 29 coming off 59 balls. He would eventually depart with the score on 105 when he was dismissed by Kasir Shah (2-26).
Shah then clean bowled Archie Walker, video above, before Edwards returned to the attack to remove Josh Hickman, leaving Stratford reeling at 115-8.
In danger of being bowled out for an easy target to chase, James Urquhart and Tom Grundy set about Rugby’s bowlers. The pair wasted little time in adding on the runs and a series of lusty blows pushed the score past 150.
The 50-run stand was eventually broken when Golding had Grundy caught behind for a run-a-ball 30. Sean Hopwood (5) followed soon after with Urquhart finishing 30 not out as Stratford were bowled out for 178.
Stratford made the early breakthrough in reply as Rugby had just two runs on the board when Henry Parker was run out for a duck by Scroop.
Hugh Cochrane and Jeevan Barhey (24) settled the early nerves and got Rugby back on track. The pair were looking strong but Barhey’s innings came to an end after he was trapped lbw by Colwell (1-45).
Cochrane looked like he was heading towards a deserved half-century but he fell just short on 47 after he was caught out by Hickman from Purser’s (1-21) delivery with the score on 101.
Landsdale and George Mackenzie got the scoreboard motoring along again and it wasn’t long until they brought up the 150.
Mackenzie was next to go when Grundy (2-33) had him trapped lbw for a 38-ball 36.
Grundy then had Edwards out for a 15-ball buck, leaving Rugby at 169-5 and needing just ten runs to claim victory. Landsdale would tick off the remaining runs himself, eventually finishing 68 not out, which included 13 fours.
The defeat for reigning champions Stratford was their first at Swans Nest Lane this season and as a result they dropped to seventh in the table.
The Panthers will be looking for home comforts on Saturday when they entertain second-bottom Moseley Ashfield (noon start).