Bradninch were cruelly denied a victory in their Servicemaster Clean Devon T20 Finals Day semi-final when they lost to Exmouth by a margin of just three runs.
Exmouth batted first and a terrific all-round effort with the ball restricted the Maer men to a total of 141-9 from their 20 overs.
In terms of wicket-taking honours, it was skipper Gary Chappell who took those with three wickets, while Ross Acton edged the economy stakes with his four overs yielding just 21 runs and he also picked up a wicket.
It was the catching count that also impressed with no fewer than seven held, two of them by wicketkeeper Tim Piper and there was one each pouched by Andrew Buzza, Dan Hardy, Rory Thomas, Ross Acton and the skipper.
The final bowling figures were – all five bowled four overs each: Matt Foster (1-36), Dan Hardy (2-36), Ross Acton (1-21), Gary Chappell (3-23) and Elliott Acton (2-23).
The run-chase, whilst ultimately a losing one, was certainly one that had a large crowd at the Ottermouth home of Budleigh Salterton on the edge of their season.
It was so nearly a case of skipper Gary Chappell and another former Exmouth player – Andrew Buzza – winning the game for Ninch.
With the side looking in a spot of difficulty needed 10 an over of the final five overs, the skipper slammed a brace of sixes – the first to bring up a 51-ball half-century, to ease the pressure and set his side a target of 37 from the final four overs (24 balls).
Chappell, who opened the innings, had lost Matt Foster (7), Dan Hardy (5) and Charlie Walker (7) before he was joined at the wicket by Andrew Buzza. The pair came together at 60-3 after 11.2 overs, and Buzza was quickly into his stride. He hit back-to-back fours in the 13th overs before the Chappell hitting in over 16. The 17th over yielded just three runs leaving 34 needed off the final 18 deliveries.
Singles came from the first two deliveries of the 18th over bowled by George Greenway before a ran-three shot left the board showing Nelson (111)! It was soon 114-3 and a single off the fourth ball made it 114-3 with 14 balls to go and 27 runs needed. That came down to 25 runs needed from the final two overs.
The penultimate over was bowled by Kazmi who had (0-16 from his first three).
Ball one of the 19th over saw Gary Chappell’s marvellous innings ended by a Chris Matters catch and the task got that much tougher. Chappell trooped of to great applause from both sets of supporters for another superb innings – one that saw him hit 64 runs from 60 balls faced with six four and three sixes.
Buzza was joined by Rory Thomas and the second ball of the 19th over saw Buzza bag a single – Thomas did the same from the first ball he received – 23 runs required from nine balls. Buzza got two from the fourth delivery of the over and a single from the fifth to move to 28. Thomas was restricted to a single off the final ball and so the last over began with Thomas facing and Bradninch needing 19 from the last six deliveries.
The first ball, sent down by George Greenway and it yielded a single – 18 to win, five balls to come, Andrew Buzza facing. Buzza got a two of the second and now needed to find 16 from four deliveries. A single off the third left 15 needed off three balls, but a six by Thomas off the fourth ball left nine runs needed off two overs – sadly though, the penultimate ball saw a single scored leaving an improbable eight with one ball to go and Andrew Buzza – who had batted superbly, slammed the final delivery to the boundary for four, but it meant a three run defeat for side.
Buzza finished unbeaten on 35 from 37 deliveries and Thomas – who gave real hope with that final over six, was not out 10 from five.