BLANDFORD 203-6 (8pts) lost to BEAMINSTER 204-7 (18pts) by three wickets

LEADERS Beaminster won another exciting and tense County Division Two game at Blandford as Ross Baker’s men successfully chased their target with just 3.3 overs and three wickets remaining.

With an unbeaten 64, middle-order batsman Rich Runyard was the hero as he smashed 10 boundaries to enable a vital victory for the promotion-chasing visitors.

After an uncontested toss, Blandford were put in. The opening pair of batsmen started well as they set a solid platform. Change bowler Ross Baker (1-27) eventually made the breakthrough by accounting for Tim Margetson (18) but James Woodruff (56) continued to apply pressure through some fine stroke play before he was unlucky to be dismissed.

Although wickets continued to fall at regular intervals, all of the home top order made useful contributions with captain Ryan White (35) and Jamie Mitchell (27) among the runs.

Will Moss (3-37) continued his good form before some hard hitting from Ben Robbins (25no) propelled Blandford to 203-6 from their 45 overs.

In pursuit of 204, Beaminster’s top-order woes continued as Chris Park (2) and Ali Crawford (0) perished with just 17 runs on the board.

However, Baker (40) built a vital 48-run partnership with Daniel Swift (24) before the latter was caught behind off Martin Tuck (1-30) and, after Lewis Keenan was dismissed for eight, Beaminster were in trouble at 65-4.

However, Runyard and Baker shared an excellent 74-run partnership as the game ebbed and flowed.

When Baker was caught and bowled by Woodruff (1-21), (4-36) took two further wickets to ensure a nail-biting conclusion.

Yet Runyard continued to play aggressively as he plundered nine boundaries and a six before Beaminster reached their

target to conclude a thrilling game.

Beaminster host Puddletown on Saturday.

Speaking to Echosport, Baker was relieved to have backed up last week’s one-wicket win over Parley with another slender victory.

He said: “It was a tense game again, Blandford played well – they’re a tough side to beat on their own ground and batted extremely well.

“We persevered, got a couple of partnerships when we were batting and just managed to get over the line.

“It was a match-winning innings from Rich, a fantastic knock and a big relief to win it at the end.”

On the title race, Baker added: “We were focused on getting the victory. After (Puddletown) the fixtures look like they’ll be a little bit easier, so we’ve just got to try and get these victories.

“It’s going right down to the wire and makes for a very exciting finish.”