Finals success for Pucklechurch and Bradley Stoke

BOTH Pucklechurch and Bradley Stoke are aiming to follow up Bristol & District knock out success by going on to clinch promotion in the league.

Pucklechurch (pictured) trumped Barrow Gurney by seven wickets in the Bateman Trophy final at Cleeve and now hope to stay on track for elevation from Division Six.

And Bradley Stoke are bidding to ensure winning the Tony Hitch Cup via a 51-run success over Backwell Flax Bourton is a prelude to securing promotion from the Senior Division to the West of England Premier League.

Rain decimated Saturday’s league programme while heavy overnight showers that continued into Sunday morning appeared set to force the postponement of finals day.

But the groundstaff at Cleeve refused to give in, working tirelessly on the square and outfield while the clouds cleared and wind blew in to ensure that a delayed start was possible.

Pucklechurch made full use of the conditions after winning the toss to restrict Barrow Gurney to a total of 111-5, Mark Fisher (41 not) and opener Phil Milton (38) top scoring as Jamie Anstey (3-9 from five) turned the screw.

Openers Josh Stevenson (39) and captain Ryan Watts (38) then put the South Gloucestershire village side on track for the trophy with a stand of 64, and although the scoring rate slowed dramatically, victory was eventually achieved with three balls to spare.

It was an emotional day for Pucklechurch whose players wore special pink caps carrying the initials of Vicky Freestone, who died last summer after serving as club secretary for more than 20 years.

Watts said: “We wanted to pay a special tribute to Vicky who worked so hard for the club over such a long period of time.

“We now want to go on and make sure we’re promoted. We’re top of Division Six but it’s tight and there’s still plenty of work to do.”

It’s much the same story for Bradley Stoke who go into their final three rounds of league matches in high spirits after overcoming Backwell Flax Bourton by 51 runs to retain the Tony Hitch Cup.

Man of the match Tom Laver top scored on 51 in the South Gloucestershire’s challenge of 160-7 after winning the toss.

And it proved to be well out of reach as Backwell Flax stumbled to 62-7 before being dismissed for 109, Tom’s brother Dan leading the bowling with a return of 3-25.

Victory was the perfect way for Bradley Stoke captain Ash Baber to celebrate his 25th birthday. He said: “We’re really pleased, this was a good team performance with a lot of people all chipping in.”

His side are second in the Senior Division. Leaders Bedminster 2nds are all but champions thanks to a 57-point lead while Bradley Stoke are 11 clear of third-placed Frenchay with matches to come against Claverham (away), Coalpit Heath (home) and Clevedon 2nds (away).

Just a handful of games escaped Saturday’s weather. Bitton 2nds lifted their hopes of the Division Eight title with a 59-run victory away to Chipping Sodbury 3rds, Lee Swindlehurst unbeaten on 54 while Bristol New Eleven moved up to third in Division Nine thanks to an 89-run success away to Hallen.

Eby Sebastian’s unbeaten 54 helped the visitors reach 160-4 ahead of Hallen battling to 70-7 in reply.

In Division 13, Thornbury 4ths reached 108-9 off their 40 overs at their Tockington home against Carsons & Mangotsfield 2nds, Will Thatcher capturing 5-15 before his side romped in by nine wickets, Jack O’Hara unbeaten on 59.

Just down the road at Oldbury-on-Severn, Stoke Bishop completed a 91-run win away to Thornbury 5ths in the 30-over division.

James Hepple retired unbeaten on 51 in the Bristol side’s 193-5 ahead of Thornbury being pegged back to a reply of 102-5, Ollie Lunt claiming 2-5 from three overs.

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