Exmouth under pressure to win + champions and challengers clash

Richard Baggs - Exmouth
Richard Baggs - Exmouth's captain see trouble ahead if his side lose

EXMOUTH skipper Richard Baggs knows defeat by Torquay on the Recreation Ground tomorrow could be terminal to his side’s title chances.

Second-placed Exmouth are 24 points behind leaders Bovey Tracey at the top of the table as the final third of the season comes into sight.

While Exmouth are playing Torquay tomorrow, Bovey Tracey and defending champions Sidmouth meet at Ashburton Road.

If the results go the wrong way, Baggs fears Exmouth could be out of it.

“We need to beat Torquay because, if we don’t and Bovey win against Sidmouth, we are probably out of it,” said Baggs.

“What we don’t want is to get rained off – the forecast is dreadful – and Bovey play and win.

“Although there are six games left after this one, if we are getting on for 40 points behind it will be hard to make that up.”

Exmouth are without batters Chris Metters and Jon Evennett as well as seamer Lawrence Greenway.

Although Metters is playing football he will be available for Exmouth on the next three Saturdays.

“He got sent off in the final game last season and the three-week ban kicks in next week,” said Baggs.

Alex Craib, a young off-spinner who switched from Budleigh Salterton last season, comes in for his Exmouth debut.

Torquay, who have dropped down to fourth from bottom after suffering a 20-point penalty, are fresh from beating Exmouth in the Servicemaster Devon T20 final last Sunday.

The formats may be different, but the sides largely the same;. After getting past Exmouth in the T20 final with two balls to spare, there isn’t a lot between them.

“Exmouth have an excellent side and are still in the hunt to win the title so we know what to expect,” said Torquay captain Justin Yau.

“It'll be a tough game and we need to apply ourselves a lot better than last time out.”

George Greenway and Sam Harris skittled Torquay for 65 in the league back in May. Exmouth won by six wickets.

Batter George Allen comes back in for Ben Francis in the Torquay side.

NORTH Devon are under pressure to beat Bradninch this Saturday to steer clear of  the Premier relegation zone.

Last Saturday’s 92-run defeat by Heathcoat left North Devon fifth from bottom, which sounds better than it is.

The gap between North Devon and Plymouth in the second relegation place is only 13 points – not much of a safety margin.

And as all four of the teams below North Devon are playing among themselves this Saturday, two of them can gain ground on Ed Yeo’s side.

Bradninch are on a mission to win after running into the Bess brothers in full cry last Saturday – and losing to Sidmouth despite having 328 on the board.

“it is time to start winning games again,” said Bradninch captain Gary Chappell.

“We need to be careful not to get sucked back down the table and we want to finish as high as possible.

“North Devon have improved lately and won't be an easy game.”

Bradninch are without all-rounder Dan Hardy and spinner Will Squire but expect Andy Buzza to be fit to play.

HEATHCOAT and Exeter meet on the County Ground in a relegation double pointer.

Heathcoat remain bottom despite beating North Devon last time out.

A headache for Heathcoat and skipper Randerson is the possible absence for the next few matches Jack Dart, who took a ton off North Devon.

Dart was in Devon’s side playing Wiltshire at Salisbury on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, in which he suffered a knee injury that limited his running between the wickets to a cross between a skip and a hobble.

Randerson reports Dart as being fully fit, which will be a bonus

Exeter are on seven points off a relegation place after losing to Plymouth – and that’s close enough to trouble for them.

Skipper Miles Lenygon, who missed the defeat by Plymouth, says Heathcoat are a side who have not fulfilled their potential this season – yet.

“We know their batting has the potential to be dangerous, but it has hardly fired this season and their big players are short of runs,” said Lenygon.

“Hopefully that can continue.”

PLYMOUTH can do their survival prospects some good by winning at Paignton.

The City side moved within five points of safety last Saturday by beating Exeter.

Paignton are only nine points up the table and on the target list for a win.

Sam Stein, the Plymouth captain, says the game could be hugely significant.

“It is another big game for us,” said Stein.

“If we get another win we should then jump out of the drop zone.

“And if we play anything like we did last weekend we will be going very well.

“Lads are training hard and looking forward to the weekend.”

One change sees spinner Fahad Ali in for John Kerridge.

MATCH of the day in the Premier Division tomorrow? It has to be leaders Bovey Tracey against defending champions Sidmouth.

Sidmouth (4th) lag 47 points behind Bovey Tracey in the latest table and have a lot to do to make up lost ground.

Don’t  bet against it though. They chased 329 to win last Saturday – Zak and Josh Bess both making hundreds – and did it with more than five overs to spare.

A side that can do that deserves respect.

Bovey have already beaten Sidmouth once this season, not that skipper Peter Bradley sees that as hugely significant.

What is significant is beating Sidmouth again, which potentially knocks them out of the title running.

Said Bradley: “If we win we will be roughly 60 points ahead of them. If we lose, we're still at least 30. Is it a must win for them? Possibly…

“We would love to do a Paignton and do the double over them.

“It's a funny division and we must not get complacent, as anyone can beat anyone and most teams have gone on losing or winning streaks.

“Sidmouth have some great players and all three Bess brothers are in super form.”

You can say that again! Zak has 566 league runs and Josh 560. Both are averaging more than 70.

Former Devon captain Chris Bradley makes one of his relatively rare appearances these days, which should strengthen the bowling.

Hugo Whitlock remains less than fully fit following a side strain, but may have a short spell in the 2nd XI as part of his rehab.

Will Christophers drops down to the 2nd X to open the batting with Ashley Causey, roles they are likely to have in the Devon Lions against Dorset Leopards on Sunday.

Bovey’s success across the board – the 2nd XI are chasing Sidmouth at the top of Premier Two – has not gone un-noticed by the Devon management.

Matt Golding, Whitlock and Toby Codd have all played in the full county side this season – and Bovey have four men in the latest lions team.

Christophers and Causey will be joined by Chris Yabsley and Codd.

Sidmouth are waiting on Liam Lewis to report on his fitness after he went lame in the win over Bradninch.

Skipper Luke Bess agrees with his opposite number that the game is significant.

“We go out to win ever game regardless,” he said. “This is a big game and we will be raring to go. I am sure Bovey will be too.”