Hatherleigh hang on to beat Exmouth in winner-takes-all battle

North Devon Gazette

Hatherleigh live to fight another season in the Tolchards DCL Premier Division after beating Exmouth by 10 runs in a winner-takes-all last game of the season.

Four clubs were in relegation jeopardy on the final day of the season – Hatherleigh, Exmouth, Exeter and Cornwood – and of the two playing each other the loser would be going down.

Tino Mutombodzi, Hatherleigh’s overseas professional, chose the last game of the summer to reel off a century in his side’s hefty total of 260 for five.

Mutombodzi was last man out midway through the terminal over, having been involved in stands worth 181, mainly with Gareth Tidball (29) and Paul Heard (44).

Pete Turnbull (1-21 off 10) was Exmouth’s cheapest bowler. George Greenway (2-51) was the only one with more than one victim.

Exmouth were looking good at 114 for one with James Horler (48) recently out to Charlie Presswell (2-45) and Andy Buzza still there on 53.

With 28 overs to go the scales were tipping Exmouth’s way. Then Buzza got out, followed five balls later by Luke Davies, and when Fin Marks was spun out by Eddie Jones, Exmouth had deteriorated to 134 for four.

George Greenway (32) and Dan Pyle (60) revived the chase, only for their work to be undone as three wickets fell and they went from 181 for four to 189 for seven.

Pyle kept going, now supported by Sam Goodier (24), and their stand reached 48 when Goodier was caught behind off Heard.

The target was 24 to win when Pyle was joined in the middle by Tim Piper, the former Exmouth captain who had three league 50s to his name in the first half of the season before ill health forced him to take a break.

Time wasn’t a problem – with more than eight overs to go – but with only last man Ryan Schaufler to come there was little room for error.

Piper fell to Jones (3-45) with 11 still needed and the first ball down from return seamer Charlie Nielson sorted out Pyle and sent Exmouth down.

Hatherleigh stayed up by 0.23 of an average point – which is roughly four points over the course of the season – which was enough to satisfy skipper Mark Lake.

“I think in the end it was fully justified and fully deserved,” said Lake.

“It was a fantastic win, but all credit to Exmouth, who gave it their all.

“Tino and Paul were brilliant with the bat. Then Eddie jones and Charlie Presswell delivered in bucket loads with the ball. Roll on next year!”

The other side going down with Exmouth are Exeter, who lost to champions Heathcoat which dropped them into the bottom two as Cornwood won to go past them.