Nielson saves Hatherleigh from collapse in top-of-table thriller at Sandford

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HATHERLEIGH pulled off a remarkable 21-run over Sandford in the top-of-the-table clash at Creedy Park

Both sides were unbeaten going into round six so something had to give.

When Hatherleigh were 75 for six after a duffing up from Matt Theedom (3-40) and Pete Steer (3-31), Sandford seemed in the driving seat.

Hatherleigh recovered to make 223 for nine – Charlie Nielson hitting a match-turning 61 – and it was up to Sandford to catch them.

Sandford had a go all the way down the order, but needed one of the top five to organise the workload with a big knock and that didn’t happen.

Sandford were dismissed out for 202 in the last over, although the game had got away before then.

“It was one hell of a win and showed our strength in depth,” said Hatherleigh captain Mark Lake

“At 75 for six we were dead and buried, but our lower order was superb led by Charlie Nielson and great helping hands from Ryan Davies and Sean Letheren.

“Then we were brilliant in the field and with the ball.

Sandford couldn't get above our run rate and kept losing wickets at key times.

Hatherleigh are now 20 points clear of Sandford at the top.

The crumb of comfort for Sandford captain Richard Foan is chasers Cornwood were rained off against Plympton and are 30 points in arrears in third.

“It was not a great day at the office, but I was encouraged that we got so close against a well-organised Hatherleigh team,” said Foan.

“Luckily for us, because of the rain it didn't cost us.

“Peter Steer was the stand-out for us with three wickets and 30-odd with the bat.”

Foan said it was frustrating Hatherleigh were able to post 223 having been 75 for six, but said there was a reason for that.

“Hatherleigh are where they are in the division because they have good strength in depth,” said Foan.

Kiwi Matt Thomas (29) was the only one of Hatherleigh’s top six to make much headway as Theedom and Steer got to work.

It took a change of bowling to remove Thomas, Foan bringing himself on for some slow left-arm stuff.

Nielson, who hit three fours and three sixes, put on 47 with skipper Mark Lake and 39 with Ryan Davies. Foan (3-21) broke that stand too by bowling Nielson.

Davies (38) and Sean Leatheren (24no) posted another 43 in the latter overs.

Foan (25) and Neil Bettis (32) gave Sandford a start before Thomas (4-25) slowed them up.

Although Theedom made 30 and Adrian Small 26, the chase was starting to flag with Ross Cherrington and Rob Fishleigh both keeping it tight with the ball.

The game turned during the time it took Sandford to go from 131 for four to 139 for seven – Thomas taking two of the wickets to fall.

Steer (34) and Jamie Palmer (10) had a go, but there was too much ground to make up.

Sandford are away to Plympton this Saturday.

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