RUGBY returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion on Saturday with a thumping victory over high-flying Bedworth, inspired by all-rounder Henry Wilkins.
Rugby’s promising early season form in the Warwickshire League Premier Division had deserted them in recent weeks, but they turned this around at the weekend with one of the club’s best performances in recent memory.
Matt Ewer struck an early blow for the visitors when he found the edge of David Jakeman’s bat in the first over.
But this brought Bedworth’s big-name recruits Luke Reeves and Michael Pickering together at the crease and the pair counterpunched effectively.
The scoreboard motored to 71 for 1 from ten overs with the opening batsmen striking ten boundaries in this time.
The introduction of spin turned the game back in Rugby’s favour however, as Tom Wikins bowled Reeves (49) with his first ball and then trapped Scott Friswell (0) lbw two balls later.
This double blow took the momentum out of Bedworth’s innings and they were forced to rebuild, allowing Rugby to slow the scoring considerably through the middle overs.
Henry Wilkins removed the dangerous duo of Jason Jakeman (17) and Sam Smart (15) to reduce the hosts to 127 for 5.
Pickering and Lewis Peacock (36) added 58 for the sixth wicket, but a wicket apiece for Raj Chohan and Ewer continued to peg them back.
Pickering went on to score 97 as the hosts eventually finished on 249 for 9 for a total that looked above par on a pitch that was displaying increasingly inconsistent bounce.
Rugby’s task was made all the more harder when fast bowler Sam Smart got Charles Robards out with the first ball of the innings.
However, this brought Michael Powell to join Henry Wilkins at the crease and Rugby launched an unbelievable counter attack that Bedworth could not respond to.
With contrasting styles, both batsmen found the boundary regularly and a stunning partnership saw them add 164 runs in just 19 overs before Bedworth finally broke the stand.
Wilkins’ brutal innings of 80 from 51 balls was finally ended by Reeves and, when Ewer (7) followed soon after, Bedworth sensed a chance to get back in the game.
However, Chohan (18) and Powell continued Rugby’s progression, taking the score past 200 and, although Chohan’s dismissal left Rugby on 201 for 4, the result was never really in doubt.
Captain Owen Edwards (34 not out) finished the game in a hurry, while Powell (89 not out) batted throughout the innings to secure a six-wicket win.
Rugby will be hoping the victory will kick-start their season and this Saturday they host struggling Solihull Municipal.
Elsewhere, a second successive defeat for WILLOUGHBY leaves them with one cautious eye on the foot of the South Northants Cricket League Division One table after tasting an 80-run defeat to second from bottom Hinton-in-the-Hedges.
The hosts lost the toss and were put into the field by the visitors whose decision to bat first proved a useful move.
They got off to a steady start, until the opening partnership was broken by a combination of Martin Nicholls, who produced a magnificent catch off the bowling of Marcus Fleming.
However a bit of luck along with an unusually flat performance by Willoughby in the field allowed Hinton to reach 207 for 6 off their 40 overs.
Sean Gardiner top scored for the visitors with 86 not out, while Dave Alcock was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 41.
In reply, Willoughby’s innings never got going and they lost regular wickets in the face of some accurate Hinton bowling to eventually subside to 127 all out.
Robin Corrigan top scored with 39 but Paul White with 3 for 23 and Richard Wills with 3 for 24 were the main architects of Willoughby’s downfall.