RUGBY had to settle for a losing draw against visitors Four Oaks Saints in the Warwickshire League Premier Division on Saturday after surrendering a dominant position.
This meant Rugby’s rise to the summit was shortlived, as they slipped to third in the table after being restricted to 11 points.
With the weather finally improving, Rugby’s groundstaff were able to produce the best track of the summer but, accounting for the overcast conditions, Matt Ewer was happy to bowl first when he won the toss.
His decision soon proved to be a shrewd one with Ewer and Owen Edwards making early inroads with the new ball once again.
The pair are forming a formidable opening attack this season and, after Four Oaks’ openers had moved to 17 without loss, four wickets fell for just seven runs and the visitors were left reeling at 24-4.
This saw Four Oaks’ captain Tom Wright joined by West Indian overseas star Carleon Brome at the crease and the pair built a match-defining partnership.
With the their side on the verge of a monumental collapse, they battled hard early on, before beginning to up the scoring with some impressive strokes.
Brome (82) enjoyed an early life when he was dropped at slip, but Wright (93) was chanceless as the pair added 163 in 33 overs.
Edwards (12-1-60-4) finally broke this stand in his second spell, as he and the Ewer (15-4-46-5), who was the pick of Rugby’s attack, claimed late wickets and restricted Four Oaks to 224-9 from their 50 overs.
On a fine batting surface, Rugby were confident of chasing this total down but their reply faltered early on, with Brome again in the thick of it with two wickets.
Ewer joined Charlie Robards in the middle with his side in trouble on 45-3, but two of Rugby’s most famous stalwarts got the innings back on track with a positive stand.
However, having advanced to 105, Ewer (33) was caught in the deep just as Rugby looked to be in control of proceedings.
Steve Ward (36) continued the momentum for Rugby, while Robards (62) passed his third league fifty of the season in typically serene fashion.
Again Rugby looked to be in the box seat but wickets fell at the wrong time, with both men falling in quick succession and suddenly Four Oaks were on top.
Brome (15-3-53-4) led the visitors’ attack and Rugby had to change plan and see out the remaining overs to secure a draw.
Hugh Cochrane (13) continued to look in good nick, but it was over to tail-ender Tom Binding (8no) to negotiate the final overs, as Rugby closed on 187-9.
The result saw Rugby take 11 points from a game they were disappointed to let slip, but ultimately hung on well to secure a draw in, and they are now ten points adrift of top spot ahead of Saturday’s trip to Nuneaton.