RUGBY suffered a heavy defeat to in-form Handsworth on Saturday after a batting collapse undermined a whole-hearted effort in the field.
Before the Birmingham League Division Three match began, Rugby suffered a big blow when captain and leading run-scorer Owen Edwards was ruled out with a back injury and stand-in skipper Henry Parker lost a key toss.
Handsworth were happy to bat first and got off to a flying start against some wayward Rugby bowling.
The hosts raced to 75 without loss before Vishaal Rathod struck the first blow for Rugby and removed Waseem Mazhar (32).
This breakthrough stopped Handsworth in their tracks and Matt Ewer claimed the prized scalp of Renrick Hooper (0) in the next over, with the No.3 coming off the back of an unbeaten 167 against Stourbridge.
Ewer (2-56) and Henry Wilkins (2-43) made further inroads as five wickets fell for 53 runs.
Neal McGrath was then introduced and began a marathon spell of 15 consecutive overs – a superb effort in such hot conditions – and he immediately settled into a probing line.
McGrath (3-46) was the pick of Rugby’s attack as wickets continued to fall, but opening batsman Carby Dawkins was still at the crease and playing a match-defining innings.
At 189-8 it looked like Handsworth would finish well below par but a further 73 runs were added for the last two wickets.
Dawkins (126no) carried his bat for a superb hundred and helped his side reach 262 before Rathod (2-68) claimed the last wicket.
Rugby’s reply started badly when Raj Chohan (3) was trapped LBW by Winston Lewis with the score on 16 and things continued to deteriorate for the Webb Ellis Road side from there.
Hugh Cochrane (28) was the only top order player to look fluent, having been called up to replace Edwards.
However, Lewis (3-33) and Ittlan Bowens (3-35) cut through the top order.
Rugby slumped to 87-8 before Rathod (22) and Mo Sadiq (30) added some lower-order resistance and showed the top order the kind of application which was needed.
However, the final wicket fell in the 36th over with the score on 140 as Rugby slumped to a 122-run defeat.
Rugby travel to second-placed Stratford on Saturday.